Nietzsche Wannabe

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of 'world history' - yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die."

A nihilistic philosopher who always lectures about how morality, hope, or the general goodness and value of life are meaningless.

Nietzsche Wannabes are one of the inhabitants of the "cynicism" side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. Most ontological mysteries have a Nietzsche Wannabe, because their lectures are perfect tools for playing existential mind games with the audience. Sometimes they serve as Mr. Exposition, while other times, everything they say is a Fauxlosophic Narration or even a Red Herring, or they're a mix of all of them.

In more straightforward Science Fiction and Fantasy stories, they are usually villains who are always plotting destruction, and can get really over the top in their behavior. This character is the polar opposite of The Anti-Nihilist, who also thinks life has no inherent meaning yet reaches inverse conclusions about morality and the value of life.

Examples of Nietzsche Wannabe include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Big O: Schwarzwald rants about the insignificance of the human race in a world without a past. He gloats about how only he knows what a cosmic fraud we all live in. Even after he dies, he still manages to show up and narrate all the real big Mind Screw episodes. It turns out that he was right. Everyone is living in a crappy play that's full of Plot Holes.
  • "Shadow" from Gate Keepers is another Nietzsche Wannabe, who's in league with the bad guys because he's disgusted with humanity's evils.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: Sensui, the rogue Spirit Detective. He went on to use the Chapter Black to turn the people that would become his team into Nietzsche Wannabe people as well.
  • Gundam
  • Naruto
  • Kimblee, and to a certain extent Dante, from the Fullmetal Alchemist anime, although Dante really just uses it to justify her own abhorrent selfishness. In Kimblee's case, he doesn't even make an exception for himself; all life is worthless, including himself, and everything is allowed because there are no worthy standards.
    • It's worth noting that manga Kimblee is more or less the opposite of his anime portrayal, being an Affably Evil Social Darwinist Blood Knight who believes that people are always capable of surprising you and greatly appreciates strong convictions. The Nietzsche Wannabe of the manga would probably be Pride, who believes everything and everyone who is not himself or Father is pointless. He is eventually defeated by Kimblee after the latter becomes disgusted by his lack of convictions.
  • Legato Bluesummers from Trigun is a personification of this concept.
    • Knives is too, though his belief differs slightly in that it's everyone EXCEPT him and his brother that should kill themselves.
  • One Piece: Ohm constantly laments about the pointlessness of life and seeks to "save" people from suffering and desire by ending their lives.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: Debonair believes that the world of Cephiro without its Pillar is doomed to fall, and that suits her just fine, as the survivors' continued despair grants her power.
  • Diva from Blood+ wants to turn every human on earth into a Chiropterans (monsters, pretty much), because humans treat her as nothing more than a monster.
  • Rokudo Mukuro from Katekyo Hitman Reborn is very jaded like this. Which makes it all the funnier that he actually ends up being one of Tsuna's guardians.
  • Creed from Black Cat is definitely this. His whole goal is pretty much to cleanse the world of weak people that don't have superpowers and rule the remaining people as King with Train as his Queen partner.
    • Also, Leon Elliot. "The good people...the naive people...they die first." Leon is one bleak-minded little jerk, stemming from a history of very grim life experiences. He's not quite Creed yet, but he's getting there.
  • Rei and Mitsuki from Doubt are pretty much this, believing that the world is full of dirty liars who deserve to die.
  • Vicious from Cowboy Bebop is a slightly less over the top and more realistic version of this trope than many, being a nihilistic, ruthless, sociopathic Yakuza who holds that there is nothing in this world to believe in.
  • Takasugi Shinsuke from Gintama had once fought to drive the Amanto aliens out of Japan, but after his side lost, he grew to believe that Japanese society, having been corrupted by alien influence, needed to be utterly destroyed. Now he lives to destroy. Everything.
  • To an extent, Sousuke from Full Metal Panic! (at least before he meets Kaname). Especially noticeable during TSR, after he thinks that Kaname is dead and starts going on a very Nietzsche Wannabe-ish rant, saying that humans are just meatbags that die.
  • Johan Libert from Monster likes to create these but isn't really one himself as he does believe in something bigger. Unfortunately, what Johan believes in is evil.
  • The Yagami-esque Villain Protagonist of Lost+Brain finds all of humanity worthless, until he discovers control through hypnotism. One year later, he's gotten a good portion of the school under his control and successfully engineers the death of a member of government; however the biseinen inspector who introduced him to hypnotism in the first place is already on to him.
  • Ulquiorra Cifer from Bleach is a personification of this way of thinking. Throughout the series, he is outspoken in his belief that the bonds and emotions of humans are meaningless, and that nothing can come of their struggling. This philosophy becomes the center of his conflicts with both Ichigo Kurosaki and Inoue Orihime. His character poem in the twenty-second tankoban of the series is themed on the belief that the world and all things living on it are without significance. Also, when Barragan identifies the "ways of death" over which each member of the Espada govern, it is revealed that Ulquiorra is the avatar of nihilism. He subverts this trope with his final epiphany in chapters 353 and 354
    • Nnoitrae, a Death Seeker who has no problem with killing anyone who gets in his way and who states that he believes the only point of living is dying (subverted somewhat in that he is very clear and specific about the kind of death he wants to have).
  • Revy from Black Lagoon is a genuine nihilist in that she denies the existence of meaning, at least academically. For practical purposes, however, she'll preach the virtues of money and guns over God and love, since this is what she has been able to rely on in her life. She initially has great difficulty dealing with Rock's idealism, threatening to kill him if he ever moralises to her again. Revy herself elaborates that "nothing's worse than being treated like some whore by your companions", but in recent chapters, it is suggested by one character that she attacks idealists because their ideology contradicts her assertion that the world is a terrible place. By the end of the (anime) series, Rock himself confesses to be a nihilist, just with a positive attitude where the Nietzsche Wannabe is characterized by its decidedly negative attitude, here speaking of saving an innocent girl's life:

Rock: "It's not an obligation. And it's got nothing to do with justice. The only reason I wanna do it is because it's my hobby."

Balalaika: In the grand scheme of things, our lives are meaningless. They're light as a candy wrapper.

  • Mahou Sensei Negima has The Lifemaker, the Big Bad that Nagi faced off against. Nagi's response? "SHUT THE HELL UP!"
    • Fate has also shown these tendencies; claiming that everyone are just soulless puppets, etc. Although he has a basis for this belief, as the Magic World, along with it's native inhabitants, may have been created by Fate's master.
      • Tsukuyomi was amused by the fact that despite supposedly holding these beliefs, Fate later on starts to experience human qualities like attraction and opinion, unbefitting of a lifeless soldier for a cause he may or may not believe in. The fact that she takes a nearly patronizing stance towards him after finding this out probably makes Tsukuyomi herself the best example in the series. And yes, she does believe that life is meaningless aside from the small joys that can be grasped (in her case, causing bloodshed).
      • Hell one of her recent lines is almost a creed for this character type. " you truly believe I am doing this for money?.... ahahah you are such a child. There is no meaning in this world, I seek naught but blood and carnage."
    • ...and then there's Yue Ayase, who pretty much felt that the world was without meaning following the death of her grandfather, who happened to be a philosopher. Luckily, she got better when she befriended Nodoka, Haruna, and Konoka.
  • Soul Eater has a resident Mad Scientist, Franken Stein, who had apparently been one of these for a while—we even got a flashback of Stein telling Spirit "God is dead". It is up for debate if he got better, as Spirit did seem to renew some faith in the human race, but...
  • In the Neon Genesis Evangelion movie The End Of Evangelion, Shinji Ikari got a taste of this trope (Rei even gave him a chance to be an Omnicidal Maniac), but rejects it by rejecting Instrumentality.
  • Ergo Proxy: Dark Messiah Raul Creed becomes this as he loses his sanity over the course of the show.

Comic Books

  • The Batman graphic novel The Killing Joke created the characterization of the Joker as Nietzsche Wannabe who will do anything to prove to Batman that life is one big joke and that the only sensible response to it is give into madness.
  • In the Marvel Universe, The "Mad Titan" Thanos usually pulls this archetype off with a spectacular amount of wit and style.
  • Carnage from Spider-Man doesn't believe in order and morality, and kills people for fun.
  • Watchmen "Chapter VI: The Abyss Gazes Also", skirts around this trope. The chapter title is lifted from a Nietzsche quote (quoted in full at chapter's end).
  • Lampshaded in the DCU where nihilist Kid Amazo (whose intro features him talking to a Nietzsche bust that talks back to him, just to give you an idea that this is a guy with the combined powers of the Justice League and is completely off his rocker) is preparing to fight the League after a Face Heel Turn and begins a Nietzsche Wannabe speech to the bust. The bust points out that Kid Amazo is doing things that go against what Nietzsche believed. It was promptly smashed.
  • Tao from the Wildstorm Universe. As mentioned in Ed Brubaker's Sleeper: "The Tactical Augmented Organism (Tao) looked at life and saw Chaos and Order. Humanity's denial of Chaos appalled him.So he would tear it all down and fill the world with chaos,if only to watch mankind cling to their illusions as they burned around them."
  • Batman villain Mr. Zsasz became a serial killer after having an epiphany that all life is meaningless; that people are nothing more than purposeless "zombies", and killing them is the only way to liberate them from their emptiness.
    • This may be a reference to Serial Killer Carl Panzram, who described himself as "the man who goes around doing good." In the sense that he thought he was doing people a favour by killing them.
  • Stormwatch: Lampshaded with Father, the villain of Warren Ellis's first issue. A Nietzsche-obsessed superhuman murderer created by a neo-nazi Evilutionary Biologist, he had been trapped in a mountain by said creator for having several flaws—for instance, being insane. Upon escaping, he proceeds to kill every person he encounters while quoting butchered Nietzsche at them, and sometimes at their corpses. This is apparently his entire plan. In his mind, he is the Ubermensch, and is "bringing joy to the ordinary man by dint of his existence-- by destroying them."
  • Momo in Persepolis. His arguments are actually refuted by Marjane, who has seen people find meaningful purposes for themselves despite the world's senselessness and cruelty.
  • A God Somewhere: This is a possible interpretation of Eric, the main character, who, when confronted about raping his sister-in-law and crippling his brother, says "Wrong is just a word people made up. It has nothing to do with the real world." shortly before breaking out of prison and killing dozens of people for no reason. Near the end of the story, in the wake of his demise, a subculture of people who look up to Eric has apparently developed, and some of them can be seen hanging out on a street corner, where their response to something an old man angrily says to them is "Wrong is just a word people made up, bitch!"
  • Madcap, one of the few villains in Marvel Comics who can make Deadpool look lucid (and has the power to make others act crazy), was originally a deeply religious man (his name has never been revealed), until the bus his family and congregation had chartered collided with a truck carrying Compound X07 (an experimental nerve agent developed by A.I.M.). He was the only survivor, landing in a puddle of the chemical, and gaining regenerative powers that would later prove to rival Deadpool's. Unable to understand why he alone survived and benefited from an accident that killed every friend he had, he was driven insane, and concluded that life has no purpose and everything happens for no reason. Dressing like a harlequin, his only "goal" since then has been sharing his demented philosophy with everyone else.

Fan Works


  • Collateral: Sociopathic and deadly assassin Vincent shoves cab driver Max out of a self-deceptive rut as he forces Max to drive him to various "jobs" one night in L.A. Near the end Max snaps, admits that Vincent was right and fights back, eventually killing his captor.
  • Agent Smith in The Matrix sequels. In Revolutions he goes into a long rant about why Neo bothers to continue fighting him and that "Only a human mind could come up with something as insipid as love!" and "Why, Mr. Anderson!? Why!? Why do you persist!?" Ironically, Neo's response is something a Nietzschean Ubermensch might actually say: "Because I choose to."
  • Played for laughs in The Big Lebowski with the three evil German nihilists, and their amusing Catch Phrase "We believe in nothing!" often applied free of any particular context. They're very enthusiastic about their nihilism, and love to bring it up. Their nihilism, however, doesn't stop them from whining about how "It's not fair!" when it turns out their attempt to extort money out of the heroes by pretending they've kidnapped a woman when she hasn't even been kidnapped has been rumbled. Walter retorts Fair! WHO'S THE FUCKING NIHILIST HERE!

Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, but at least it's an ethos.

  • Zé do Caixão, or "Coffin Joe" as he is called in the English subtitles, Anti-Hero (HERO?) of a series of Brazilian horror movies.[context?]
  • In his Hamlet speech at the end of Withnail and I, it's debatable whether Withnail is talking about his sexuality or confirming an absolute nihilism.
  • The Big Bad from Sunshine (2007) uses this as an excuse to kill the astronauts going to recharge the dying sun.

"We are dust, and to the dust, we shall return. It is not our place, to challenge God!"

  • Match Point - the Villain Protagonist uses his nihilistic philosophy as justification for murder.
  • Characters based on Leopold and Loeb (such as the protagonists of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope) are pretty much always portrayed as Nietzsche Wannabes.
  • The main villain of The Genius Club, Armand, rants that humans have no purpose and God doesn't exist, until the dying sage and the genius garbage man both discuss their confrontations with death.
    • In the end, he really just had an identity crisis.
  • The Nolanverse's version of The Joker definitely fits this description. At the beginning of the movie, he even paraphrases a quote from Nietzsche: "I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger."
    • Also Two-Face, who decides the flip of a coin is as good a way to decide life and death as anything.
  • The Cube seems to be about the Gorn but is really an exposition on different roles that people play representing different philosophies in society. The protagonist's big secret is that he is a nihilist
  • Lotso in Toy Story 3 feels that he and the other toys are all "just trash waiting to be thrown away!"
  • The villainous Clinton Stark of 7 Faces of Dr. Lao claims to be one of these, opining to the film's hero, "There's no such thing as the dignity of man. Man is a base, pathetic, vulgar animal." It's eventually revealed that he secretly doesn't want to believe that, and that all he goes into all his evil schemes hoping they will fail, but they never have.


I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the King and queene: moult no feather. I have of late, (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o'er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire: why, it appeareth no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so.

  • Dora from The Moth Diaries is not just a Nietzsche Wannabe, she's writing a book about a dialogue between the man himself and Brahms. She gets into a few arguments over the former's teachings with Ernessa. As to whether the book is completed before her death or not, we never find out. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this detail.
  • Macbeth doesn't start off this way, but by the end? The titular character's soliloquy following Lady Macbeth's death ("Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow") is one of the more eloquent statements of the idea. His motives in the last act are his giving into this trope, made all the more terrifying because the amoral universe was of his own creation.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky loves this type of character; in fact, Dostoevsky was a major influence on Nietzsche himself, and the Nietzschean Ubermensch has strong similarities to Raskolnikov.
    • Ivan Karamazov and Smerdyakov both fit the trope in The Brothers Karamazov. One could make the case that Fyodor Karamazov is also a Nietzsche Wannabe, but he's more of a libertine than a nihilist.
    • The famous novella Notes from the Underground features a protagonist who rants against the Nihilists, the Nietzsche Wannabes of the time, yet fits the trope pretty well himself.
    • And of course, Rodya Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment.
  • H.P. Lovecraft, pioneer of the Cosmic Horror Story, takes the Nietzsche Wannabe mentality Up to Eleven (without the Omnicidal Maniac sociopathy though), with his stories focusing on the insignificance of human life compared to the indifference of the cosmos as a whole, vast eldritch discoveries and other Things Man Was Not Meant to Know out there. Lovecraft even developed an entire philosophy called Cosmicism.
    • In Lovecraft's short story The Silver Key, his Author Avatar Randolph Carter ponders about the matter, and concludes that aesthetics are the only value worth sustaining in a universe without direction or meaning. In a way he fits the Ubermensch category better than this one, since he creates his own values after realizing the insignificance of the current ones. Of course he had his best experiences in dreams, and in the end flees the material world completely, making him also a rather extreme lotus eater.
  • Cronal, Big Bad of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. He was raised by a cult of darksiders called the Sorcerers of Rhand, who believe that the will of the universe is that entropy and destruction are the only constants, and work to bring this about. At one point Cronal mentally disparages Palpatine for attempting to create when he should have destroyed. All of which means that yes, there are people out there in the galaxy who are nastier than the Sith.
  • In the Discworld book Night Watch, the bad guy Carcer is said not to be insane but rather too sane, in that he can do whatever the hell he wants because he knows that laws and things are just arbitrary lines the normal folk draw in the sand to pretend they're safe. Needless to say, Vimes does not take this well.
    • Although he channels his cynicism much more constructively than most people on this page, Lord Vetinari also occasionally holds such rants. Once at the end of Guards! Guards! when he lectures Sam Vimes. And then there's his little anecdote in Unseen Academicals, when he tells about the time he saw an otter and her children devour a still living salmon and the eggs it was carrying.

Vetinari: One of nature's wonders, gentlemen: Mother and children dining on mother and children. And that's when I first learned about evil. It is build in to the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.

    • In a bit of a subversion, Death maintains that things like justice, mercy and duty are lies, but says that the entire point in believing in those lies is that it's what makes them real.
  • Although ordinarily he is not of this view, when Rand Al'thor of The Wheel of Time has a long overdue psychotic break and cracks after almost killing his father out of paranoia and misplaced rage he rants about the pointlessness of existence in this fashion, railing against the actions of all being forgotten and then repeated thanks to the series' conceit of Reincarnation, and he comes within a few seconds of destroying or at least irrevocably damaging all of reality in a desire to end it all before he talks himself down via a conversation and eventually a Split Personality Merge with the voice in his head, and can be found in the quotes page of this trope.
    • Ishamael/Moridin from the same series, however, gives every sign of being a straight example, being the only one of the God of Evil's minions who not only truly understands its nature, but actually joined it for the express purpose of putting reality out of its misery.
  • M. Herron's thriller Why We Die is built around this philosophy, and begins with the narrator directly lecturing the reader about how people's purpose in life is to die and be buried. It's a bit . . . overblown.
  • The Draka conquer the world in the name of their collective sovereign will and genetically engineer themselves into a race of very literal Übermenschen. This is justified within the timeline itself, as Nietzsche relocated to the colony of Drakia after he was rejected in his homeland.
  • In Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk, Mona's boyfriend Oyster.
  • The Iliad: Achilles predates Nietzsche by millennia, but he resembles this form of Nietzsche Wannabe . He gets an absolutely epic rant about how life and the heroic code are meaningless, and they're all going to die and be forgotten anyway. He goes so far as to wish everyone but himself and Patroclus dead in the hope that then, their glory might actually endure. It's incredibly bitter, incredibly powerful, and is this trope all over.
  • The father and son encounter a starving one in The Road. The son takes offense at the man's comments and gives him food, apparently as a way to prove the guy wrong.
  • Bazarov in Fathers and Sons is one.
  • The Inner Party from Nineteen Eighty-Four is an entire social caste of Nietzsche Wannabes, and they happen to rule everything. Ingsoc is pretty much the Nietzsche Wannabe of political systems, being built to completely corrupt The Power of Love (Ingsoc's actual ideology is also known as the "Obliteration of the Self", which from the name can be easily seen as Nihilism incarnate). The Inner Party is completely amoral (nothing was illegal, since there are no longer any laws) but if they notice a single sign of individuality and love, called "thoughtcrime", they capture the thoughtcriminals but instead of killing them, they torture them and make them literally live their worst nightmares, but all of this is not to interrogate them, but to traumatize them and drop them into Despair Event Horizon. They leave the majority in immutable poverty, the superpowers in perpetual war and the entire world in Despair Event Horizon. You cannot reason with them or express love on them, ever. Why? Simply because their only motivation is "pure power".

O'Brien: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."

Live-Action TV

  • Skins: Tony, a vaguely sociopathic lead character in British drama is a rare comedy example. He is seen on multiple occasions to be reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra one of Nietzsche's seminal works. This is reflected in how he manipulates his friends in increasingly cruel ways for his own personal amusement. He's stated in his tie-in blog and videos that the only purpose of anyone is to entertain him.
  • Heroes:
    • Arthur Petrelli believes himself to be a Ubermensch better than normal people and free from moral constraints. Just to hammer this point home, in series three he is seen reading Nietzsche shortly before telling his son Peter that he is "Better". Ironically subtler villains Linderman and Adam Monroe did a better job of representing this trope than Arthur ever did.
    • Adam in particular. He believes he is better, that humankind is worthless and life is pointless. However he also adds a dash of Dark Messiah as he seeks to change the pointlessness of life but forcing mankind to experience a terrible cataclysm and taking the survivors as his followers to build a better world. So he's a fusion of this trope and Knight Templar/Well-Intentioned Extremist
  • Dr. Gregory House of House acts this way, and it is implied that the only reason he saves lives is because he likes solving mysteries, not because he cares if the patient lives or dies. He suspects everybody of hiding something or lying to him.
    • What makes him a "wannabe" is that we're never truly sure what his motivations are. Usually he is in it for the challenge, but we're sometimes led to believe that he cares. House tries to subvert this by revealing how selfish he is, but it's pretty ambiguous.
    • On the other hand, he's probably one of the least-wannabe-like on this page; a perfectly valid Alternate Character Interpretation is that he is actually an Ubermensch in the making, on the threshold of becoming one but uncertain if he is quite ready to take the leap. As such, he's hidden his actual, personal Blue and Orange Morality behind the mask of somewhat more socially-acceptable nihilism.
  • Connor from Angel reached his peak of Nietzsche Wannabe-ness in the Season 4 finale, and gave a rant that still sends chills down this editor's spine.

"There's only one thing that ever changes anything. And that's death. Everything else is just a lie. You can't be saved by a lie... you can't be saved at all."

  • The sci-fi series Andromeda has an entire race of folks called Nietzscheans. They were originally humans who decided to live by Nietzsche's writings. They left Human territory to found their own colonies, genetically enhanced themselves, separated in to clans (called "Prides"), and generally don't like anybody but themselves.
  • The famous-within-the-fandom 'Death And Dust' speech from Stephen Colbert. Even better because the character is (usually) a die-hard Catholic. Shortly after the 2000 Florida recount, having decided that all the debate and argument is irrelevant and who's President doesn't even matter:

Stephen: You see, nothing means anything. Mankind is just a random collection of self-replicating protoplasm, floating in a godless universe where the stars blindly run and however frantically we may try to deny it, all our efforts amount to nothing more than death... and dust.
[long pause]
Stephen: [cheerful] Oh, and I'm having a Christmas cocktail party...

  • Oz. Lemuel Idzik, the mentally-ill murderer of Kareem Said, who he'd met years before in Istanbul. Said gave a passionate speech about how life was meaningless because the universe would one day end. Lemuel took the lesson to heart and tries to commit suicide by killing two people in Oz—to his dismay he doesn't get the death penalty by reason of his insanity.
  • Dollhouse
    • Alpha, even referring to himself and Echo after he forces her to undergo a composite event as Ubermensch.
    • During the second to last episode One of Boyd's rants pretty much labels his worldview as such
  • Subverted in Red Dwarf: the Inquisitor is a Simulant, a race of psychotic, violence-crazed humanoid robots created to fight wars for humanity, which humanity then attempted to shut down after they proved too sadistic. Equipped with a unique self-repair system of incomparable capability, the Simulant who became the Inquisitor survived until the end of time, and then beyond. Drifting in nothingness, he came to the conclusion that that is no such thing as God, no such thing as an afterlife, and that the purpose for existence is to live a worthwhile existence. Constructing a time machine, the Inquisitor now roams existence, meeting and judging each individual person who has ever and will ever live. If they fail to justify the life they have lived, he erases them and replaces them with a parallel version—a sperm that didn't make it, an egg that wasn't fertilized. Of course, if, in due "time", they too prove themselves unworthy of the gift of life, then they are erased and another parallel version is given existence in their place. The Inquisitor's end-goal is to ensure that the universe is populated only by the worthy, those who truly have made the best of having been born.
  • Doctor Who likely has more than can be easily counted, but one of the earliest appears in "Tomb of the Cybermen" in the form of Eric Klieg, who wishes to use the power of the Cybermen to lead the intellectual party to conquer the Earth under his rule. Needless to say, he and his Lady Macbeth wife overestimate his ability to control the Cybermen.
  • Simon Munnery's sketch show Attention Scum is this trope.
  • On Burn Notice, Psycho for Hire Larry waves off the immorality of killing people for money (or just for fun) with his mantra of "some people live, some people die."
  • Supernatural: Dean Winchester of is a rare heroic example of this, although considering the way his life is going, it's not entirely unjustified.

Dean: There is no higher power, there's no God. There's just chaos and violence and random, unpredictable evil that comes out of nowhere and rips you to shreds."

    • Made even more depressing in that finding out for a fact that God exists doesn't really make him change his mind.
  • Marcus in Babylon 5 is equal parts Nietzsche Wannabe and Knight in Shining Armour.

"You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought: Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them. So now, I take great comfort in the hostility and unfairness of the universe."

Newspaper Comics

  • In a strip of Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin says, "The problem with people is that they don't look at the big picture. Eventually, we're each going to die, our species will go extinct, the Sun will explode, and the Universe will collapse. Existence isn't only temporary, it's pointless! We're all doomed, and worse, nothing matters!" Of course, he's using this as an excuse to not do his homework.
  • Rat in Pearls Before Swine. He constantly sees the worst in others and looks at life as hopeless since the world will end. He was even able to get Pig and Zebra into his "End-o'-the-world" box, where they just get drunk out of beer-drinking hats.

Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

"I DID NOT SPEND MY LIFE NOT RAPING AND KILLING PEOPLE TO NOT GO UP IN THE SKY AND HAVE ... CAKE! SKY CAKE!"...So the next time you see some douchebags in front of an abortion clinic, or trying to ban a Harry Potter novel, just go, "Oh, Sky Cake. Why are you so delicious?!"

Tabletop Games

  • Forgotten Realms:
    • Shar, the goddess of bitterness and oblivion is the very manifestation of this trope.
    • Tharizdun, the God of Omnicidal Maniacs, has many of these traits; it's just that instead of sitting around preaching about it, he's chained in the Far Realm driving people mad and plotting to destroy everything, everywhere.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle: Archaon, Chosen of Chaos fits the actual Nietzsche mold fairly closely, believing that human society is irredeemably corrupt, and that a new form of society most be built. Of course, he thinks this should be done by killing everyone and turning the world over to Eldritch Abominations. He also held to the unrelenting pessimism, calling all human gods lies/liars, and believing this to such an extent that he was horrified to discover a Physical God had reincarnated to stop him—despite the fact that he had just won the fight.
  • Dark Heresy, the RPG of Warhammer 40,000, has the Pilgrims of Hayte, a cult based around the notion that life is meaningless and thus willing to end it on a scale as large as possible. The outer layers believe that they worship Chaos for its closely fitting ideology while the inner circle knows that Chaos is just as strict, unforgiving and ultimately meaningless a master as the Emperor - and thus, a tool to be used. Which they relatively often get away with, if you consider "despoiling 3/4 of a planet and then abandoning your cult to its fate when the cavalry arrives" to be "getting away with it".
    • If you think about it, Warhammer 40k just begs to have Nietzsche Wannabes.
  • The Bleak Cabal from the Planescape campaign setting of DnD is a subversion, as they are generally nice fellows despite their belief that the universe makes absolutely no sense.
    • Furthermore, there's the Doomguard faction, whose members know that the entropy of everything is inevitable—in fact, the core of Doomguard philosophy is that trying to hinder entropy is inherently futile and some of its more extreme members even try to hasten along the process.
  • The Rakdos guild in Magic: The Gathering have spells like this. They're also the 'hedonist' and 'sociopath' guild; their general theme is being the life of the party...and, sometimes, its death.


  • Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street gives a rousing number, "Epiphany," devoted to the worthlessness of the human race and how we all deserve to die. From which point on he cuts a bloody swath in accordance with those precepts. Accompanied by dramatic chorus about moralizers and hypocrites.
  • Othello: The operatic version turned Iago, a villain who normally did it For the Evulz, into one of these with his Villain Song "Credo in un Dio crudel."
  • The operatic version of Woyzeck has The Doctor, who gives us this little gem.

"Haven't I told you that the urethral sphincter is subordinate to the will?"

Video Games

Why do people rebuild things they know are going to be destroyed? Why do people cling to life when they know they can't live forever? Think how meaningless each of your lives is!

  • Seymour from Final Fantasy X, unloved and alone since his mother's death, wants to harness Sin and annihilate all life on Spira to put an end to pointless suffering. Two years later Shuyin from Final Fantasy X-2, eternally enraged and bitter at the world that let his one true love die, wants to harness Vegnagun and annihilate all life on Spira to end the existence of a world that he now sees as a pointless mockery. Clearly a lot of baddies on Spira didn't get enough hugs.
    • Although in the world of Spira, the difference between the living & the dead isn't readily apparent (more than one character in the games is actually an Unsent...), & the dead hold onto their memories & ability to interact with the world. So killing everyone to end all suffering makes a certain amount of sense, in that context, as it would be far from oblivion (at least until being dead make you crazy you turn into a Fiend).
  • The backstory of Dark Matter, a (thankfully defeatable) Eldritch Abomination that serves as the perennial antagonist of the Kirby games, makes it clear that its actions are meant to turn the universe into a place where no one can be happy, so that everyone can share in its sorrow and loneliness. Guess it's kind of hard to make friends when you're a sentient force of pure Black Magic.
    • Ironically, Kirby's best friend technically is one as well.
  • Adam, leader of the Delphi cult in Trauma Center, who spread the GUILT plague to give humans the "blessing" of death they "deserve." He may or may not have included himself.
  • Darth Nihilus, an aptly named Sith Lord from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, pursues the destruction of all life because "all life exists to feed his hunger." At least this is how Visas describes him.
  • Luca Blight from Suikoden II. Being the genocidal psychopath that he is, he could very well carry out his plan to eradicate humanity by himself.
  • Sephiran, from the Fire Emblem games Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, manipulated events in both games in order to prove to his patron goddess that the two races of Tellius were unable to live in peace, and thus should be destroyed. Sephiran had attempted to bring the two races to live in harmony for over several centuries, since a previous war between the two was the reason the goddess nearly destroyed the world in a flood. But a nearly genocidal massacre of the Heron branch of the Laguz race and the resulting reprisals decades previous to the game's start convinced him that the situation was unsalvageable, and that he should wake up his goddess so she could pass judgment.
    • Sephiran may be a partial subversion, as battle conversations with him imply that he regrets his actions somewhat, and that he wants to die (at the time, he's guarding the entrance to Ashera). If you satisfy certain conditions after beating the game once, Sephiran will actually renounce his old views and join your party for the final battle.
    • From the 6th game, there's the Big Bad Zephiel, who started out as a "Well Done, Son" Guy, trying to appease his father and is generally a nice boy. But his father is such a Jerkass that attempted his life so many times, Zephiel finally snapped, killed his father, starts to conclude that humans are evil, since they also bring out the emotions that made his father jealous to him. Thus, he began a campaign of conquering Elibe, and when he does, he planned to surrender the land and the human race to the Dragon race. Of course he failed in the end.
  • All of the human villains of Persona 3 fit into this trope. One -does- admit to being in it for the power he'll supposedly be given over the world if he brings about the Fall, but ultimately, because the Fall is the Fall...
    • In Persona 4, we have Shadow Teddie, who, being a manifestation of repressed nihilistic feelings and hidden existential dread, fits quite well. His most powerful (well, it would be if it wasn't telegraphed) attack is called Nihil Hand.
      • If he's a manifestation of nihilism, wouldn't that not make him a wannabe but an actual nihilist?
      • Let's not forget Adachi, who claimed that all life was troublesome and pointless and that the world should just end.
  • Gig from Soul Nomad and The World Eaters has this attitude towards humans. And with him being a Grim Reaper, it goes without saying that the world he was responsible for was not having a good time until he got retired.
    • In the Demon Path, Shauna becomes this after Trish's suicide
  • Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid might count as one. He joined Liquid's revolution not because he believed in their goal, but because he hates humanity and wanted to kill as many as he could before dying himself.
    • Don't forget Fortune. After losing her parents, husband, and her unborn child of three months, she joins the military, only to find that bullets and bombs can't hurt her. Fortune then goes on with the mission of using Arsenal Gear to use its hydrogen bomb just to kill as many people as possible since no one can kill her.
    • And Sniper Wolf. She was waiting for someone to kill her, killing as many people as possible before then.
  • Sargeras in the Warcraft universe was driven insane by the depthless evil of the demons he fought, and because of this he began to believe that the Titans' mission of creating new worlds was utterly pointless, and that chaos is the natural state of the universe. He created the Burning Legion, a massive demonic army, to revert the universe from an ordered one to a chaotic one. Even after Sargeras was apparently killed (officially he's "absent"), Chris Metzen has stated that the Legion's current commander, Kil'jaeden the Deceiver, still follows his master's philosophy.
  • In Tales of the Abyss there's Sync. He's a failed Clone of a Creepy Child (according to the manga: Sync's original likes keeping people as pets) that was thrown alive into a volcano. He Lived. His response? Essentially, he wants to die, and take the whole, meaningless world with him.
  • Kerghan from Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura: his motive rant says it all.
    • Actually, this is a subversion, because he isn't being nihilistic, he's being compassionate in a very warped way. He's proposing a constructive solution to the pain of all living beings. (Yes, "kill the world" is constructive in this sense. It solves the problem he's trying to solve, it's just not a solution that anyone else likes.)
      • This might be true, if there wasn't the possibility of convincing him, that his conclusions are based on his personal experience only. He does not necessarily stick to this constructive solution. He can be convinced that he is a Nietzsche Wannabe.
  • Ramirez from Skies of Arcadia holds to the view that all of humanity is either corrupt (stating that they are driven by greed, hatred and bigotry) or weak (showing contempt for those who are incapable of defending themselves from him, or of using what power they possess to forcibly change the world), and uses these beliefs to justify attempted (and not-so-attempted) genocide. Curiously, he also holds to a somewhat more accurate Nietzschean philosophy, given that he believes his master, Lord Galcian, to essentially be an Ubermensch, stating that Galcian is driven only by the will to power and the desire to use it to change the world, and that only such a man can unlock the world's true potential. He goes fully Nietzsche Wannabe (not to mention Omnicidal Maniac) when Galcian is killed, stating that the heroes have condemned the world by killing the only person who was capable of saving it.
  • Cyrus from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl claims that life is meaningless, so it's perfectly acceptable for him to destroy the entire universe and create a new one in which he is a god and little things like emotions and the human soul do not exist: "The incomplete and ugly world we have now can disappear. I am resetting everything to zero. Nothing can remain. It is all for making the ultimate world. A world of complete perfection. Nothing so vague and incomplete as spirit can remain."
  • Haer'Dalis from the Baldur's Gate series, as a member of the Doomguard, is a Nietzsche Wannabe, albeit a rather chipper one. At one point he states that he finds all the destruction wrought by the Bhaalspawn to be marvelous.
  • The Reason of Shijima in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne is the ultimate representation of this trope. Sponsored by the Assembly of Nihilo, with the Ubermensch Hikawa as its leader, it seeks to destroy and reconstruct the world as a place of utter, absolute stillness. It is a reality where mankind is subsumed into infinite peace and unity, with no passion, no conflict, and the total eradication of human consciousness and individuality. Should the Demifiend (the player) choose to support this Reason, the game ends with Hikawa congratulating him on an infinite, barren plain of complete silence and the bluest sky you have ever seen.
  • Jin Kisaragi is revealed to have this kind of view in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift; one translation of his words to Tsubaki in his Arcade mode story contains the line "The only truth in this world is death".
    • Also from Blazblue, Hazama wants to destroy the current world because it's filled with "LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES!"
  • Mephiles the Dark from Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 qualifies, especially in the Showdown with Mephiles cutscene, where he, in a manner similar to Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolutions, questions why Shadow even attempts to oppose him and defend humanity when he will inevitably be persecuted.

Mephiles: Why bother fighting at all? Why defend those who will only persecute you later?

  • Mega Man Zero: Dr. Weil, shortly after explaining his particularly horrific origin for his immortality to Zero, undergoes an immense rant about how justice and freedom are worthless ideals, and then as his opening quote even dismisses ideals themselves as being meaningless or a lie.

Dr. Weil: Justice!? Freedom!? Worthless ideals! You Reploids are just machines, but you started a war a long time ago in the name of freedom! And humans! Look what they did to me! Driving me away while spouting the word "justice!" Zero, would you insist on saving them!? Controlling the Reploids is nothing! The destruction of all mankind is only fleeting! Not quite alive... Not quite dead... Forever, by my side! I'll make you suffer a fate far greater than anything ever experienced before![...]Risou Dato... ZAREGETTO DA!!! (Ideals and stuff... IS UTTER NONSENSE!!!/Ideals?! WHAT A LIE!!!)

  • Kerghan from Arcanum chooses death over life and wants to overcome all existing life, ending the pain and struggle all life contains. Under certain circumstances it is even possible to convince him, that only his personal experiences made him a Nietzsche Wannabe. Arcanum shows in this aspect how your positioning in the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism is just individual choice.

Web Comics

  • In Kid Radd, GI Guy, rather accurately observing that video game sprites like himself are created for the purpose of killing each other, tries to destroy the entire sprite world, and humanity with it.
    • Unlike most cackling madmen, he's convinced this is will be a mercy-kill and that it's in everyone's best interests.
  • Dominic Deegan: Oracle For Hire has Celesto Morgan, who is determined to "cleanse the world" by killing a lot of people he thinks deserve to die, as exemplified in these strips. Dominic hinges on being one for a while in the same story arc, until he is shown a group of people who willingly sacrificed themselves to protect their friends; this shakes him out of the "The world is horrific" viewpoint he was holding.
    • It is worth noting that he isn't evil—in more recent strips he negotiates with Deegan and tries to make a peace offering. He still tries to kill people. The fact that one is a psychopath and the other is a crime lord about to get away with it are points in his favor though... more of a Knight Templar now.
  • Jack from Antihero for Hire, as shown here.
  • In Eight Bit Theater, Lich von Vampire believes that all life exists to die. The cultists and Black Mage also seem to have a nihilistic philosophy. Possibly played for laughs, seeing as his point of argument was people building their homes where glaciers "would come screaming through" hundreds of thousands of years later.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, Galatea started out this way. She's one of the apparently rare cases where the hero successfully convinced her she was wrong, and she lightened up a little.
  • The Bunny System approach:

So, ever read any Nietzsche?

  • In Suppression Samantha Wight delivers a speech to this effect when she first appears, but on that same note believes their efforts to be so pointless that she lets them pass afterward. Which they would have done if Bael's Berserk Button hadn't been pressed a few too many times.
  • Homestuck: Jadesprite, after her Unwanted Resurection, starts taking this view. Jade ends up calling her out on this.

Web Original

  • Daphne Rudko from Survival of the Fittest has a viewpoint that can best be described as this, viewing humanity as nothing but parasites that must be destroyed and life as bleak and torturous, causing her to play not as much out of wanting to live (though that was a big part of it) as wanting everyone else to die. Then again, she's probably one of the few justified Nietzsche Wannabes out there.

Western Animation

  • Miss Bitters from Invader Zim. She's played totally for laughs—but given what happens in a typical episode of the show, she looks like an optimist. Her rants / lessons tend to consist of telling her students how pointless existence is and how they are all doomed, doomed, doomed...
  • The 'Satan' sequence in The Adventures of Mark Twain (adapted from Twain's novella The Mysterious Stranger) is one of the most frightening and disturbing examples. What's worse is that this was put in a family film.
  • Professor Screweyes from We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story. In a deleted scene (which really shouldn't had been censored), he claims that he believes that the world is senseless and cruel because, when he was a kid, a crow pecked his eye out, and as such he dedicated his life to scare other people. This is why his death in the end isn't senseless as many claim; its just that the creators of the movie were too stupid.
    • It also explains amount of crows. He fears them (no wonder...), but he keeps them around so that he can "control" his fear. Deleted scene is actualy very big Mind Screwdriver
  • Owlman becomes one in Crisis on Two Earths after he finds out that there is a multiverse of universes out there, each Earth in each universe representing a different possiblity, and thus making the meaning of man's choices ultimately pointless .
    • This actually takes a rather interesting twist in the final battle, where Batman teleports Owlman and his planet-destroying device to a barren, frozen wasteland of a parallel Earth. Owlman frees himself, then looks at the bomb, which is near the end of its countdown, and the Abort button is right there in front of him. Smiling, Owlman says "It doesn't matter." and lets the bomb go off, killing him.
      • The "It doesn't matter." comes from the fact that he would only freeze to death later on if he had pressed the "abort" button as he knew he had no way of getting off that parallel Earth so he chose to die then rather than later. But, yes, it's still interesting.
      • Actually, it comes from the notion that somewhere, in a parallel Earth, he did manage to deactivate the bomb and save himself.
  • The Stunticon Dead End got to be like this at times during the course of the original Transformers cartoon. It becomes a bit of a joke when you read his character biography, and learn that he is quite vain about his appearance and constantly stays polished and detailed.

Dead End: What does it matter if I meet my fate now, or when my circuits fail?

  • Spider-Carnage in the Grand Finale of Spider-Man: The Animated Series. An alternate-universe Peter Parker, he already at the brink of madness due to his version of The Clone Saga - being possessed by the Carnage symbiote sent him to Omnicidal Maniac-level out of the belief that life was meaningless. It took a meeting with an alternate-universe Uncle Ben to make him snap out of it and fight off the symbiote's control.

Real Life

  • Mark Twain, got quite depressed after two of his daughters and his wife died in tragic circumstances. And accidentally walked in on his father's autopsy, and lost his little brother when the steamboat he had gotten him a job on blew up, and believed himself to be responsible for the death of his son Langdon, not to mention the fact that his daughter Jean died in a household accident on Christmas Eve. It's no wonder he wound up as cynical as he did, praising death as 'the most precious of all gifts' and calling the Grim Reaper 'the only immortal who treats us all the alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all'.