Not Good with People

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This character has a natural empathy for other life forms. They talk to animals that don't normally go near humans. Their garden is a work of art and they gossip with the flowers. They predict the weather by listening to the birds and can foresee a drought by examining the plants. Sometimes this is a very general ability, encompassing all of nature. Sometimes it's exclusive to animals, plants or other life forms. Sometimes, it's only one species of animal or plant in particular. Either way, they have a special relationship with some non-human being on a level other humans can only dream of.

The problem? It's a totally different story when it comes to the members of their own species.

The price for communing with nature is apparently a graceless ineptitude with other people. You might find them deep in conversation with a lion, unicorn, daffodil, robot or many-tentacled people-eating thing, but a simple "good morning" on your part is liable to send them scurrying for cover or provoke a tirade.

Broadly speaking, there are two variations of this character.

The first type is a sweet-natured, shy little soul who simply doesn't understand humans. They're so noisy, and they fight all the time, and they ask awkward questions and...(here the train of thought breaks down as they start hyperventilating and go fleeing back to their farm/garden/whatever). When it comes to taking care of sick animals or wilting plants, however, they can show remarkable courage and tenacity. If The Hero and his merry band need his/her help, they'll have quite a job on their hands to earn enough trust to win him/her over. Nearly invariably, they manage it. If the character who's Not Good with People joins their group and becomes a regular cast member, they suffer some mixed fortunes - The Lancer will probably enjoy teasing them and sending them running for cover, but at least one other member will adopt The Shepherd role and stand up for him or her. They can also be surprisingly successful romantically - the animal-plant empathy combined with their inherent sweetness can see them walking off with a pretty guy or girl on their arm while more assertive types snarl in envy (although much will depend on whether the writer favours good guys and nice girls, or spitfires and rebels).

The second type is much more active, but far less benign. Unlike the first type, who seems to symbolize the fluffy, gentle and "pure" nature of...well, nature, this type abides by the law of the jungle and is much more pragmatic. This approach can extend even to the species that they're "connected" to. Rather than singing to the flowers, they'll probably prune them in a businesslike manner and lecture them on last year's poor growth rate. They will however, give them a smile and an affectionate pat, and the plants will love them just the same.

Though they're just as talented with animals and/or plants as the first type, they're not afraid of people—they just don't like them. The traits that their brethren find "scary," they find "annoying" or "disgusting." Talk to them and they won't run away...but brace yourself for a rant on how all Humans Are the Real Monsters and why should they bother helping you when you're just a member of the scummy species they hate the most?

Admittedly, often their bark is worse than their bite. Those who prove to them that there is something salvageable in human nature (through, say, a Patrick Stewart Speech) might manage to win them over, setting then up for better interpersonal relations...or just prepared to make an exception for one or two humans in particular. Even if they do, their non-human buddies will always be first in their affections. If they don't...well, then they're a nature-loving Jerkass whose talent with animals or plants supplies their Pet the Dog moments.

Sometimes, their dislike of humans results from spending so much time with other species, putting their experiences as homo sapiens in a new and unflattering perspective. Sometimes it's the other way around—the character's hatred of humans actually drove them into developing a bond with some other living being.

If a type 2 becomes egotistical enough, to the point that their "gift" is more an intellectual ability than an emotionally-based talent, then they become a variant of the TV Genius.

The sci-fi genre in particular has seen the boundaries widened by throwing in robots and aliens as viable alternatives to animals and plants. The one rule for this character is that they have a powerful empathy with some other species than their own, apparently at the expense of basic social skills.

Polar opposite of Animals Hate Him.

See also No Social Skills

Examples of Not Good with People include:


First Type (Shy)[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Kyo Sohma from Fruits Basket. He always ends up saying the worst things possible to people, including Tohru in the beginning. He gets better, but he initially has problems making friends...
  • Both Harima and Yakumo from School Rumble could arguably be defined as this. Harima gets this during a stint as a hermit who gathers a large following of animals. Yakumo's telepathy helps drive her away from people, and she does like animals, but she lacks Harima's expertise... with the possible exception of giraffes.
  • Wrath from the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist was an orphan who grew up in a jungle and obviously is oblivious to human civilization.
  • Sora from Sketchbook.
  • Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!. He gets along way better with animals, and can actually communicate and understand them better than humans. (Especially interesting in the case of Mousuke and Shiro, both of whom he relates to much better than any human in the series.) As for his communication skills with humans... let's just say they're strained at best.
  • Natsume Takashi the protagonist of Natsume Yuujinchou, is kind and understanding of almost all the Youkai he meets -including the ones who try to eat him, but is isolated from humans for most of his childhood due to his ability to see spirits. As a result he "never knows what to say" to them.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Willard: the title character is a meek social misfit with a strange affinity for rats.
  • Abby the veterinarian from The Truth About Cats and Dogs - though she deals well with people over the radio and by phone, face to face isn't so easy, especially with romantic interests. Kind of straddles the two types here in that she doesn't have a hard time speaking up for herself or others (e.g. towards her neighbour's abusive boyfriend), but she struggles with more ordinary interactions.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Tamora Pierce uses both types. Daine of the The Immortals series starts out as shy and insecure around people, while being very confident and businesslike in her dealings with animals. Thanks to Character Development, she grows in confidence, but retains her innocent outlook and some Country Mouse traits.
    • Stefan, the hostler from Song Of The Lioness and Protector Of The Small was a type one as well. A valuable ally to both Alanna and Kel, over the years he remained quiet and much preferred his horses to human company.
    • Rosethorn from the Circle of Magic universe is a type two. As a green mage, she has a huge garden and all plants love her. She takes care of them including businesslike affection and stern admonitions to calm down and grow properly. At first her only interaction with the students placed in her dormitory is to warn them that if they even breathe on her plants, she'll hang them by their heels in the well. She lightens up slightly when she realizes that Briar has plant magic too, and ropes him into being her apprentice. By the later books, though, she's been outted as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Gussy Fink-Nottle from PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster books, as well as their TV adaptation Jeeves and Wooster, finds newts easy, people difficult. Especially women.
  • Red, the groom from Pony Tale series The Saddle Club was fairly shy most of the time. The three heroines felt that this allowed the Alpha Bitch Veronica to use him as her personal servant. It turned out that Red had one or two tricks up his sleeve, but for the majority of the series he kept himself to himself.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Ranger from the Nintendo DS version of My Sims is the first type. The animals love him, but he took the job as Forest Ranger in a run down-holiday island specifically so that he could hide away from other people. Help him out and gain his friendship, and he'll help you win over the animals of the island in return.
  • Rin, the main heroine of Little Busters!, is a loner who has trouble talking to people, but she loves cats (and they love her).
  • Erana from Quest for Glory is a bit shyer than you'd expect from her legends.
  • Kevin from Seiken Densetsu 3. What's odd about this (and maybe a subversion) is that his fellow beastmen have no problem speaking to humans.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • DeForest Kelley (aka Doctor McCoy) was notably shy, appearing only infrequently in public (although when he did, he was universally warm and welcoming to fans), but he adored his dogs and Myrtle the Turtle (yes, that was her real name).

Second Type (Grumpy)[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Dr. Black Jack leans towards this, being a Dr. Jerk with a huge environmentalist streak. He's gone as far as purchasing an entire island for the sake of making it into a wildlife preserve.
  • Fuyuki Shido, the "Beast Master" of GetBackers (although blind violinists are his weakness)
  • Domon Kasshu. Being Trained In The Jungle and having two huge Broken Pedestals don't help.
  • Genzou Hayashi from Binbou Shimai Monogatari definitely qualifies, although he loosens up somewhat after Kyou and Asu take care of him in the hospital.
  • There was a one-shot female villain on Dragon Ball who coddled and protected any animals in her path, yet did not bat an eye when her teammates were in harm's way.
  • San from Princess Mononoke is about the grumpiest example of this trope that you can find. Justified in that she was literally Raised by Wolves.
    • And only slightly better than San is Keenan Crier of Digimon: Data Squad, who identifies more as a digimon than a human, and treats other humans as threatening invaders.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Coroner Dr. Laurel Weaver from Men in Black. "I hate the living."
  • Prince Nuada in Hellboy 2 displays this, ever so slightly, as he has no problem with the guard dogs of the BPRD headquarters, but is pursuing humanity's destruction (the two are linked, really, being fae, he's a force of nature himself, and humanity is seen as being harmful to nature).

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Poison Ivy from the Batman mythos is a very aggressive example of Type 2.
    • Fellow Bat-villain Catwoman is also a Type 2, though she's more of a "steal from the rich and give to the animals" mindset, and not so much a "Humans Are the Real Monsters and all need to die" one.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • As mentioned above, Tamora Pierce is fond of this type of character. The standout examples of type two, however, are Briar and Rosethorn from Circle of Magic. Their names say it all. They're devoted to their adoptive families, and both actually have good social skills simply because they have to deal with people so often...but essentially, they're both tetchy and irritable, and would ideally like to be left alone with their gardens. Briar in particular is prone to pushing people away, even those he loves, when stressed or anxious.
    • Far less sympathetic—and much more sinister—is Emperor Ozorne from Daine's The Immortals series. Humans are expendable and exploitable to him, and he doesn't treat the magical Immortals any better... but he's genuinely upset when the birds of his aviary start falling sick, and is prepared to offer Daine anything if she'll stay and look after his menagerie to the point he'll give her land and a title if she agrees to do so ...or kidnap her if she doesn't.
  • Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld series is a rather odd case of this. She's got a rather impressive affinity for cures magical and physical, has an affinity for nature magic few other witches could match, and the best witch at Borrowing in the last hundred years or longer. She's the only witch to ever successfully borrow a hive mind, like bees. She also recognizes that being Right doesn't make you nice, and as a result, has developed a reputation that crosses the species lines. The troll name for her translates to "She Who Must Be Avoided," and the dwarves call her "Go Around the Other Side of the Mountain." She can use people skills if she wants; witness the counter-cardsharping she does in Witches Abroad, or how she makes her point in The Sea and Little Fishes.
    • It's not so much that she doesn't understand people, or that she despises people, as that her abilities leave her with very little respect for the pretenses and comforting lies that make human existence endurable. This is true of almost all Discworld witches, but Granny Weatherwax has it even more than most.
    • Similar to Susan Calvin, below, is Adora Belle Dearheart, a crusader for golem rights. She not once, but twice shoots at her future husband with a crossbow, dismisses small talk with "Now we've been appropriately human to one another, what did you want?", and has only ever once been forcibly stopped from smoking, but when she talks about golems she gets all soft and caring. And when one of the golems she looks after dies, well, she starts acting as if she actually had...feelings.
    • Lord Vetinari is very good at dealing with people, but he seems to like his dog Wuffles more than any people.
      • Although, knowing him, that could just be another one of his strategies for dealing with, yes, people.
  • Isaac Asimov's Susan Calvin is a brilliant, acid-tongued robot expert who openly admits that she likes robots better than humans. In one story she comments that the difference between robots and humans is that robots are essentially decent.
  • Tarzan has openly commented that humans are petty, violent, and talk too much, and much prefers the company of apes. In one novel when he is stricken with a temporary case of speech aphasia he laments that he can no longer talk apes, but doesn't much care that he can't talk to humans.
    • People who talk too much seemed to be a pet peeve of Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs, as several of his other characters occasionally comment that they hate such people.
  • Doctor Dolittle can speak with animals and relates well to them, but aside from a few close friends he doesn't much like humans. In the original (non-Eddie Murphy) film, his female companion confesses her affection for him and he nervously admits that while he loves animals, actual people are really hard for him to deal with.
  • Elphaba from Wicked is snarky and distant even toward her friends, and she has a hard time expressing her feelings (mostly because she is Unable to Cry). On the other hand, she is an active fighter for Animal rights and, later in the book, seems to gain an ability to communicate with various creatures. One of the most prominent examples is Elphaba's journey to the Vinkus, when she travels in one wagon with a monkey, a dog, bees, and crows, and the other travelers (including her own son) have to share a second wagon between themselves.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Many animal rescue/training shows will have at least one grouchy example. You'll see them soothing and patching up injured animals, then tearing the head off a human bystander. One standout example was an animal rescue show where the main rescuer was asked by a man who'd found an injured fox in his garden if he could touch the animal. The rescuer snapped that of course he couldn't, it was a wild animal. Perfectly sensible statement... except that the rescuer was holding the fox at the time, so unfortunately the message came across as "of course you can't touch wild animals, unless you're special like me." Although you may argue that the sentiment was "don't touch wild animals unless you have special training for it, like me".
    • On a related note, the crew on Whale Wars could be seen as heroic or an Animal Wrongs Group, depending on your stance, but you'd have a hard time denying their captain falls squarely into Not Good with People. He waxes lyrical about the importance of protecting majestic and peaceful whales, but to the members of his own crew, never mind those on the "opposing ships", he is ruthless and has some serious empathy failure. He sends them out on dangerous "missions", snarls at them if they point out that it is a dangerous task, and will exile them from the ship if they dare defy him.
  • Claude Raines in Heroes is an invisible man, and claims to know what people are really like when they think they're alone. He's so sickened by and disillusioned with humans he's completely withdraw from society. He does however, feed the birds that come to his coop, and lets them out again it night.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • While type ones may exist, the rather combat-oriented nature of Dungeons & Dragons mean that most player characters will find themselves at odds with militant city-hating druids and rangers. The Baldurs Gate series has a "Shadow Druid" as a recruitable NPC who is just nasty in the first installment, then goes on to sic dangerous animals on a nearby town in the second.

Toys[edit | hide]

  • Surel from Bionicle, who lives among wolves. Also, Malum, living among Vorox, although that's more because he was exiled than because he avoids people by choice.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Sam and Max Season 2, Santa Claus admits the only reason he took the job is because he hates children. As Saint Nick, he only has to deal with them one day out of the entire year.
    • In fact, he technically doesn't have to deal with them at all; the one day out of the year that he actually has to even go near children, they're not allowed to harass him.
  • Jin Kisaragi from BlazBlue became a Jerkass partially because, as he said it himself, he's Not Good with People. He comments once that he can finds natural environs, away from signs of human life, remarkably relaxing.
  • Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Prowl from Transformers Animated; the irony that he is a robot from a world that doesn't have nature is not lost on his companions.
    • It doesn't help that he's The Stoic in general, and most of his non-treehugging time is spend in private meditation or training.
    • Tigatron in Beast Wars was sick of the war and spent most of his time on long-term scouting detail. He had befriended a (real) tiger and when it was caught in a crossfire and killed he swore off war entirely (until he realized that wouldn't stop the destruction.)
  • Mutt from G.I. Joe has always been better with animals than people, and shares a deeper connection with his dog Junkyard than he ever has with another person. However, his lack of social graces cause him to come off as, well, wild and temperamental, hence the codename "Mutt". In fact, they even force him to wear a freaking muzzle, Hannibal Lecter-style, because unlike Big Friendly Dog Junkyard, Mutt bites.
  • Anakonda from Xyber 9 New Dawn is an obvious Type 2 and Nature Hero.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Those who worked with him have said that Stanley Kubrick loved animals and hated people.
  • There are people who just can't take it when they are in crowds of people. Some hyperventilate, others pass out. It differs from person to person. Some even find it easier communicating on the internet rather than IRL.
  • This may lean towards No Social Skills but keep in mind this is not meant to be offensive!: Some people are just so shy that they don't talk, until a topic they feel safe with pops up, or until someone starts asking them about something they enjoy.


Both/Borderline[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Count D plays the part of the reclusive, soft spoken animal lover, but he's actually very much a type 2; he's just less noisy about it. Like the rest of his family, he has no tolerance for human weakness. Despite the fact that he's the protagonist, and has his fair share of Pet the Dog (well, human) moments with Leon and Chris, he's much more dangerous than most type twos. They're only grouchy, Count D is actually dangerous. Admittedly though, he's not actually human, just masquerading as one.
  • In Ghibli's Tales From Earthsea Tehru switches between painfully shy, when talking to someone named 'Sparrowhawk', but the first thing she says to Arren is "Did you come here to kill this lamb?"
    • Although Tehru and Arren's relationship is another trope entirely.
  • Dr. Jezebel in Count Cain doesn't give a damn about human life (and when he does it shows itself in odd ways: "I love you so much I want to kill you!" to Cain, his half brother), but he would never, ever harm an animal, not even a wee sparrow. Even his partners notice that his entire being changes around animals, from a near Omnicidal Maniac to a nigh-angelic Friend to All Living Things. Like everyone else in Count Cain, he has a very Freudian Excuse When he was a sickly child, his Big Bad biological father "helped" him by giving him multiple organ transplants and delicious food, courtesy of his mother and sisters and beloved pet lamb, respectively. The lamb is but a memory but the family remains, in small jars in Dr. Jezebel's office. and otherwise excellent social skills.
  • The titular Nadia from the anime Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water spent most of the fourteen years of her life suffering from a combination of Parental Abandonment issues and a cruel upbringing as a circus acrobat. The end result is a Type A Tsundere who hates adults, humans, and "progress" with a vengeance—and yet is a Friend to All Living Things who begins to treat Gadgeteer Genius Jean as a friend despite herself. In fact she finds herself falling in love with him... and in the end, they get married.
  • Trowa Barton is able to reduce a lion to a cuddly kitten with simply patience and eye-contact, but the jury is out on his actual opinion on people. Since the series finale aired over ten years ago, the jury will never reach a verdict.
    • Canonically, Trowa spent the first few years of his life completely alone, and thus lacked the basic "normal" upbringing; even after he was found, it was by roving mercenaries who pretty much adopted the kid. Therefore, his Not Good with People probably stems from poor childhood development and could be considered Type A.
      • Three out of the five Gundam pilots fall into this type, mostly because they've all been raised since childhood to be super-soldier pilots. Only Duo and Quatre seem to have no particular socializing problems. Heero is kind-hearted but he's so focused on his mission that he comes off as cold to most people. And Wufei is generally a jerk to everybody and is obsessed with his own strength.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Dragonriders of Pern usually start out as type ones. Their bond with their dragon puts humans a poor second in their hearts, and they become so wrapped up in their reptilian buddies that they become awkward and shy with people. As they grow up, however, and become aware of their privileged status on Pern, a superiority complex kicks in, and many become arrogant or condescending type twos.
    • Subverted with Kylara, whose self-absorbed hedonism leads her to ignore her own dragon to the point of neglect (which leads directly to tragedy later)
      • However, the Type Two riders are usually the more extreme cases (such as Kylara). It would be insane to live with hundreds of insufferably conceited dragonriders, and many of the Weyrfolk genuinely admire them, so it's safe to assume that the average greenrider just gets a boost in confidence and self-assurance.
  • Because of his large stature and rough appearance, Hagrid of Harry Potter fame appears to be the second type to those who don't know him, but is a Gentle Giant who, while not exactly shy, is socially awkward.
  • Countess Gertrude of Gormenghast is probably closer to the second type, with her legions of obedient birds and cats and her disdain for humankind.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The X-Files episode "Alpha" had Karin Berquist, a woman who's an expert on canine behaviour; spending years living in the wild with them, but unable to interact socially. When Mulder mentions he met her on the internet, it doesn't take Scully long to realise Berquist's agenda in luring out someone as quirky as she is with an unusual case.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Satori Komeji from Touhou: Subterranean Animism could almost pass for a Type One... until she starts bragging about her mind-reading powers. For some reason, other youkai and humans don't like having their innermost thoughts made public knowledge. Animals, however, enjoy having their wants and needs understood, and Satori is indicated to have many pets (including the Stage 5 and Stage 6 bosses, animal youkai who lived with her before they could talk).
    • Yuuka Kazami, the flower youkai, is also generally portrayed as Not Good with People. Canon indicates to some degree that she might be a Type One, but fanon usually portrays her as a more antagonistic, sometimes even sadistic, Type Two.
  • Merrill from Dragon Age II seems like a Type One at first, but eventually reveals herself to be closer to a Type Two.
  • N from Pokémon Black and White fits both categories. While he can talk to people, he's certainly not very good at it, and noted to be much worse with anyone other than the protagonist and his two mysterious friends, especially due to his belief that Humans Are Bastards, making him somewhat hostile. If you look closely, his dialogue even appears notably faster than anyone else, which may imply any or a number of social issues. Conversely, he can speak to Pokemon very comfortably and even understand them- a trait all but unique in the universe. This turns out to be justified. In order to create a champion to get rid of trainers, Ghetsis arranged for N to be socially isolated and exposed only to Pokemon who had been abused by humans, rendering N unable to understand or identify with humans and giving him the belief that they all abuse Pokemon.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Craig from South Park.
  • The Pigeon Man from Hey Arnold!.
  • Fluttershy from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is definitely the first type, only with other ponies as the people. On the other hand (justifying being placed in the "both" category) she's infamous for an intimidating glare (which seems to be the reason she's such a Shrinking Violet; she can't control it, and hates to impose), and when her "good with animals" schtick goes tits-up, she has the biggest flipout this side of Jesus at the temple.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Many autistic people understand and get along with animals almost uncannily well, but have a great deal of difficulty with human interactions.
  • Non-autistic people who are generally shy can also develop strong bonds with animals or with hobbies such as gardening.
  • Some intelligent people grow to disdain the ignorant or slow people around them and withdraw from human society, seeking solace in more peaceful relationships, such as those with animals or plants.
  • And some people just don't like other people.