"I'm shy, so shy,
—Austin, The Backyardigans
Painfully shy and quiet, the Shrinking Violet is the withdrawn character, usually but not always female, who walks through the school hallways with her head down and wants nothing more than to blend in with the scenery to avoid all attention because she believes that her presence is worthless or unwanted. Often The Quiet One. Expect her to Apologise A Lot. The reasons for her (lack of) self-confidence vary, but they usually include intimidation by the popular ones, being the youngest and more sheltered daughter in the family, and in more dramatic cases, a personal event that convinced her that the world would be better off if she just shut up. The Shrinking Violet usually doesn't suffer the brunt of bullying or taunts that more vocal outcasts take, presumably because she's so quiet that she might as well be invisible.
She will usually be better than average in scholastic classes, though not necessarily at genius or nerd level. Her appearance will often be pretty in a bookish sort of way. Bonus points if she has long dark hair that hides her eyes.
Some Shrinking Violets will accept their status, but be plagued with that nagging feeling that they can be more than they assume. Other Shrinking Violets will hate their crippling insecurities and want to reach out to others, but be paralyzed by fear of rejection. Unlike The Snark Knight, they didn't choose to be alone, but feel powerless to change it. They may even harbor a secret crush on a popular male classmate, or even on a male classmate who frequently gets picked on, which they, time and time again, cannot spit out. Prone to blushing.
One advantage to being the Shrinking Violet is that, being outside the viciously popular circle, the few friends she manages to make are the loyal, lifelong ones who'd give their right arms to help a true friend in need. Which they will, because the Shrinking Violet is invariably of the sweet-tempered, delicate type who makes a great friend and a lousy criticism taker from the Alpha Bitch or her Girl Posse.
In the end, the Shrinking Violet will always find her inner beauty and strength with the help of her newfound friends, or lover, Grew a Spine and blossom into a mature, self-confident woman who would make her parents proud. Well... not always. But generally. Sometimes the shy exterior remains towards strangers, and it's only the new friend (and the audience) who gets to see the wonderful person inside. The Beautiful All Along discovery is optional but highly recommended.
In stories taking place in asian-like place, particularly Japan the Shrinking Violet may grow into a Yamato Nadeshiko; still unassuming and possibly quiet but no longer weak. Silk Hiding Steel is another possibility, which her reputation as this trope will strengthen.
A male version of this trope may be treated as an instant Butt Monkey for everyone to martyr (unlike the female one, who is so sympathetic that yelling at her or even beating her up is akin to a MAJOR offense for her friends), or he might be given the role of sympathetic Plucky Comic Relief and overlap with a Lovable Coward. A male Shrinking Violet protagonist will usually face a conflict that finally forces him to come out of his shell, or he'll be thrown headlong into sociability and adventure at the start of the series by a Genki Girl or Magical Girlfriend.
If two Shrinking Violets fall in love with each other, expect them to be Twice Shy.
Friendless Background can be a cause for this.
Not to be confused with the heroine of the same name from The Legion of Super Heroes.
Anime and Manga
- Hinata Hyuuga embodies this trope, including the damage her ultra-strict father's family did to her self-esteem, as well as her huge crush on Naruto. When she first saw Naruto after nearly three years she fainted...twice. But when said guy is in trouble, she is ready to die for him.
- Chojuro is a rare male example.
- Nagato used to be one before the horrifying events of his past turned him into his cold and bitter adult self.
- Sakura was one but grew out of it.
- Sakuno Ryuzaki in The Prince of Tennis. This is more evident in the anime, which puts emphasis in her clumsiness and chronic shyness and her crush on Ryoma, which didn't work well with Western fans and especially with rabid Ryoma slashers. Her still quiet, but more mature manga self is closer to a traditional Yamato Nadeshiko, and quite more well-regarded in the West.
- The main girl from the Dating Sim Doki Doki Survival: Sanroku no Mystic, Tsugumi Obinata, is a Shrinking Violet and a Dojikko) (and it's speculated she's an Expy of Sakuno, actually). Same goes to Shizuka Hirose, the main chick from Gakuensai no Oujisama, though this depends heavily on which male you're pairing her up with: she's more shy to some guys, but more open to others.
- Nozomi and Mayu from Elfen Lied.
- Shinji is a male version of this in Neon Genesis Evangelion. He's played as a Butt Monkey during the comedic parts that are supposed to lull one into a false security. When episode 20 rolls around, no one's laughing anymore, especially not at Shinji's expense.
- In fact, most of the cast of Evangelion are shy to some degree (even the seemingly outgoing ones such as Asuka or Misato). The difficulties of human contact are a major theme of the series.
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei:
- Meru Otonashi is this trope taken to its parodic extreme: A cute, fidgety girl who can't get a word out of her mouth in the simplest social situation, which doesn't prevent her from constantly sending floods of nasty, abusive, Fourth Wall-breaking SMS messages to her classmates with her cellphone. And what happens when she loses signal isn't pretty...
- Kiri Komori.
- Kaga Ai. Her entire character is apologizing profusely for being a bother - especially when she isn't. She apologizes for being born.
- Sakaki of Azumanga Daioh can be best described as a Shrinking Sunflower or Weeping Willow, due to being self-conscious about her size.
- Yuri Otani from Alien Nine fits this trope perfectly because she cries frequently, freaks out very easily when it comes with aliens (even seeing them, whether or not they pose any form of threat), the dark, or anything of the macabre (such as in a scene in episode 1 of the OVA where she watches a film on TV, which depicts a man impregnated with a parasitic alien, which then bursts out of his chest). She appears to get worse throughout the course of the series since she joined the Alien Party.
- Mahou Sensei Negima:
- Miyazaki Nodoka fits this trope fairly well, complete with the Hidden Eyes in her early appearances. In the manga this receives a Lampshade Hanging: she has purple hair in addition to having it cover her eyes. Currently, however, she's developed more, coming out of her shell around Negi and the others. She could almost be described as a subversion; while she has a shy, low-key personality, when push comes to shove, she's ultimately one of the bravest girls and most likely to actually be proactive during very frightening/dangerous situations, managing to keep her cool even when pretty much everything is going wrong.
- There's Ako Izumi too, who dreams of being a Idol Singer but is highly insecure since she doesn't think of herself as anything special and has a really ugly scar on her back.
- And once again with Natsumi Murakami. Despite being an actor in the drama club, she shies away from attention, blushes and stutters when her crush Kotaro is around, and has all but nonexistent self-esteem, partly from being constantly surrounded by women far more developed than herself. She's pretty much confirmed to be self-hating when her dislikes include people with red hair and freckles (like her), and she often removes herself from important situations with the excuse that she isn't important enough to be there. Finally, and most telling of all, her artifact turns out to be a legendary-level item capable of completely erasing her presence from other people's perceptions - she is literally fated by the power of magic to be a a Shrinking Violet.
- Suzuka of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, especially before meeting Nanoha.
- One really tragic case is Akira Sakura from Narutaru.
- Also Miyoko Shitou, from Aki Honda's Girl Posse. She was so insecure that she bullied Hiro-chan because she feared being rejected by her so-called "friends", despite being hesitant about the whole deal. She's the Sole Survivor out of the group, after Hiroko's Roaring Rampage of Revenge... but she still has an arm broken, loses a leg and is left traumatised forever.
- Code Geass:
- This was Nina Einstein's original personality before she went all crazy after the death of her idol and crush, Euphemia..
- Rolo Lamperouge proved to be the kind who seemed shy and unsociable on the outside, but on the inside was far more violent and jealous, making himself essentially a male Nina... for Lelouch. He eventually began to overcome his Yandere-ness and truly see Lelouch as a brother, wanting a life where he could be normal and happy... and then he sacrificed himself to save Lelouch. Then again, his English voice actor was Spike Spencer, who also voiced Shinji Ikari.
- Also, Jiang Lihua aka Empress Tianzi. A kind, sheltered Lonely Rich Kid who's trapped in an unwanted Arranged Marriage to a much older Prince from Britannia, the poor little girl can't help but cry often and worry a lot for her guardian and best friend, Li Xingke.
- C.C. becomes this when she temporarily loses her memories and mentally reverts to a ten-year-old.
- Ill Girl Misao in the Pretty Sammy series. It brings quite a contrast to her alter ego of Pixy Misa, a gleefully over the top Card-Carrying Villain.
- Similarly, Aimi Komori is an example of this trope until she puts on her magic eye shadow and transforms into the brash, sexy Classy Cat Burglar Shadow Lady.
- Yukino Kikukawa from My-HiME, in contrast to her loud and brash best friend and partner, Haruka Suzushiro. Yukino has other friends on campus, but she doesn't speak to them as often, and even when she does, it's usually quietly.
- Machi Kuragi from Fruits Basket. A male example is Wholesome Crossdresser Ritsu Sohma, skirting the line between being played for laughs and being portrayed sympathetically.
- The Alternate Universe version of Yuki Nagato from The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Also gives us plenty of romance, especially in the spinoff manga "The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan" by Puyo.
- Mikuru also has shades of this, as part of her Moe appeal.
- Kazumi Yoshida from Shakugan no Shana.
- Chiyo from Strawberry Panic.
- Hiromi from Diabolo is of this type, to the point of depression.
- Latvia from Axis Powers Hetalia. So much that it's scary. Total Chew Toy.
- Also Ukraine, Russia's prone-to-tears older sister. She doesn't fare much better than Latvia, either.
- And Canada, eh. No wonder he's also unlucky.
- Poland is a variation of this. He does not look like it when with his friends, but when confronted by people/nations/etc. he doesn't know, he'll cling or hide behind the nearest person avaliable.
- Don't forget about Liechtenstein.
- Koyomi Hare Nanaka from the anime, Girls Bravo.
- Shinobu Maehara from Love Hina.
- Makiko Endou from Hana Yori Dango.
- Miya Alice from Dangaioh. Unless she's piloting the titular Super Robot or somebody threatens her and her partners.
- Jacuzzi Splot from Baccano! is so horribly shy and scared of other people that he breaks down into tears just trying to introduce himself.
- One of the rare male Shrinking Violets who are not Butt Monkeys is Yuzo Morisaki from Captain Tsubasa. He's very insecure and was badly traumatised by Hyuga deliberately shooting a ball to his face to intimidate him, but Wakabayashi and Tsubasa openly protect Morisaki from possible bullies, and with time he gets over his trauma and becomes a professional GK. In fact, his nickname in the team is "The Courageous Goal Keeper".
- Another male Shrinking Violet is actually the lead of Hajime no Ippo. He starts boxing actually to find his inner strength. Of course, he's quite the Butt Monkey.
- Later we're introduced to Ippo's biggest fanboy, Naomichi Yamada, who's even more of a Shrinking Violet than him. And another Butt Monkey.
- Massively subverted in Deadman Wonderland, where Minatsuki passes herself off as one when she's actually a sadistic killer. However, her faked personality fits this trope to the T.
- Bitter Virgin Hinako Aikawa is this wherever men are concerned.
- Asuka Mizunokouji from Urusei Yatsura. With added bonuses: she has Super Strength, a huge fear of men thanks to Ataru, and incestuous feelings towards her older brother Tobimarou. All of these are played for comedy.
- Hatsumi Narita from Hot Gimmick, to pathological degrees.
- Zashiki Warashi from ×××HOLiC, especially in regard to Watanuki.
- Dennou Coil actually has two of these, both male: Denpa, the large but quiet member of the Hacker's Club who is often the victim of his friends' bullying, and Haraken, who winds up on the unfortunate victim end of the plot so often that it makes him something of a woobie.
- Meiko Rokudo from Ghost Sweeper Mikami, though she might be a parody of the trope more than a straight example.
- Manami in Sprite: Between Two Worlds (Japanese title Sprite: Manami to Nami) combines this with Split Personality—in her youth, Manami's cousin convinced her to play doctor and other risque games by getting her to pretend to be Nami, an over the top self confident alter ego. Manami grew up to be a textbook Shrinking Violet. When the Alpha Bitch decides to push her too far this combined with her cousin calling out her old nickname causing the outrageously self-confident Nami personality to appear.
- Himeko Kurusegawa from Kannazuki no Miko. It is implied that her serious lack of self-confidence is the result of being abused by her foster parents when she was younger.
- Momoko of Saki, so much that she gained the ability to disappear from sight, though her relationship with Yumi has been helping her get out of her shell more.
- Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon is a quiet and withdrawn Lonely Rich Kid who's always buried in her books, and her peers actually mistake this for arrogance and never approach her. Then comes Usagi Tsukino and pulls her out of her shell, alongside recruiting her for the Inner Senshi...
- Hotaru Tomoe/Sailor Saturn. She didn't even have one friend before Chibi-Usa came along because she was so shy.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn:
- Tsuna is a cute, Moe Moe male version of this. He's shy to the point where he's always blushing whenever he talks with girls (and in many instances, guys even), is incredibly shy, and tends to hate standing out, only wanting to live life as a normal boy. And yes, for a long part of the series, he was the series' Butt Monkey.
- Chrome Dokuro is even more of an example of this trope; her shyness causes her to shut herself in a room, and she doesn't know how to react when somebody is speaking to her. Her not so subtle crush on Mukuro causes her to pass out amidst a battle with a naked giant sucking the life force out of everything.
- Also Kozato Enma. Even more so than Tsuna.
- Tiffa Addil from After War Gundam X. A good part of her Character Development is centered on her attempts to stop withdrawing from others and starting to reach out for them willingly.
- In the Super Robot Wars games, Princess Shakti Kareen speaks to Tiffa and concludes that she went through so much shit in her life before being adopted by the Vultures that she developed a powerful phobia of people.
- Maria Ortega in Aoi House, especially when it comes to her breast size.
- Yumi Fukuzawa, the protagonist of Maria-sama Ga Miteru, has a serious lack of self-confidence. This is particularly evident in the second season. she gets a lot better in the fourth season
- One Piece:
- Boa Hancock is as far as possible from being a Shrinking Violet... Until she gets around Monkey D. Luffy, that is, which transforms her into one quite easily.
- Coby starts as this. As time passes he remains polite and sweet, but gains more of a backbone... enough to stand up against Admiral Akainu, of all people.
- Mizore from Rosario + Vampire actually lists "stalking people" as her hobby, because she's too shy to hang out with friends normally. But when Tsukune needs her help, or she's competing for his attention, she suddenly becomes much braver and outspoken.
- Tamaki in Bamboo Blade is very quiet unless anime or sentai shows are involved. Get her started and she can improvise full presentations well into the night.
- Dragon Ball:
- Mugi from Hitohira is very much like this. Of course, it doesn't keep Nono from dragging her into the drama club.
- The class president in Seto no Hanayome.
- Yura from Honey Hunt.
- Sawako feels grateful just for being casually greeted by her classmates every morning. Of course, the super popular Nice Guy could never, ever, like her... that has to be her misunderstanding, or her conceit.
- Taiki from The Twelve Kingdoms, another male example. But instead of the Butt Monkey, he's The Woobie.
- Fumio of Saitama Chainsaw Shoujo started out this way prior to meeting Takumi, whose love and attention was just starting to bring her out of her social shell. When dumped her for a mysterious New Transfer Student, Fumio quickly made the Shrinking Violet to Yandere transition.
- Chrona and Tsubaki from Soul Eater. Tsubaki's Shrinking Violet tendencies make her quite possibly the only character who can handle being Black*Star's partner.
- Both Aya and Kozue from Ichigo 100%.
- Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist definitely qualifies, to the point where his bolder brother often has to stick up for him. Being a disembodied soul of a ten-year-old child locked in an eight-foot suit of armor that cannot feel or age due to an Emergency Transformation that saved him from an alchemic experiment he and his brother performed that had Gone Horribly Wrong might have something to do with it.
- Shiori from The World God Only Knows. She's a bit better after her "capturing", but is still mostly withdrawn.
- Brief from Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt, especially when he's around Pa-pa-pa-pa-panty.
- Misaki Etou from Dragon Crisis.
- Emma from Victorian Romance Emma is like this, which is justified on account of her social station; a girl from beginnings as... humble as hers could never have hoped for a respectable position as a high-class lady's maid, which was fairly high-class for a poor girl in that day, in addition to learning how to being literate and owning glasses. Emma is keenly aware of social class and recognizes her absurd luck at having been taken in and educated by Kelly Stowner; she is thusly reluctant to do anything forward enough to jeopardize her career (or hurt William's standing), even if it means turning down the man she loves.
- Sammy from Eve no Jikan is initially seen as an Emotionless Girl, which is how robots are expected to behave. However, when she begins to demonstrate her own personality, she becomes this. Partially because she is afraid that she will not be accepted as a living, emotional being, and does not want to unsettle the family that cares for her, but there are later hints that she is developing feelings for Rikuo.
- Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a classic male example. But when he finally comes out of his shell, WATCH OUT!
- From Fairy Tail, both Wendy and Juvia qualify. Aries probably fits as well.
- Tiger and Bunny. While his superhero persona Origami Cyclone is loud and over-the-top, Ivan Karelin himself is an insecure, timid, very woobie-ish nerd under the costume.
- Airi from Ro Kyu Bu, is this and she's very sensitive about her height.
- Nako from Hanasaku Iroha
- There's always one character in the Pretty Cure franchise that's like this, but Heartcatch Precure's Tsubomi takes the cake. Flashbacks show that she was so shy (due to poor self-confidence and accidental Parental Abandonment), that her only real friends were flowers. It wasn't until she moved into a new town, met major Genki Girl Erika (and became a Precure) that Tsubomi started to come out of her shell. A major portion of the series, including a story arc, is about Tsubomi overcoming this.
- Why else would Satou Tatsuhiro from Welcome to The NHK! be a hikikomori?
- Ayumi from Squid Girl is one. In one episode, she learns to be more confident thanks to a pair of brass knuckles Chizuru lets her borrow, only to have her dad shoot it right back down by saying she's not really doing anything different from the squid girl cosplay she did in an earlier episode.
- Sakurai of Kuroko no Basuke is a Rare Male Example. He combines this with Apologises a Lot.
- Michio Yuki from MW is a male example prior to the exposure of the titular chemical warfare that loses not only his shyness, but also driving him crazy.
- Reina's dad from Yandere Kanojo is another male example. This also a deconstruction, beacause his withdrawnness makes him unapproachable by his students (he works at Reina's school as math teacher) makes him mistaken as "scary teacher", "the ones with evil looks", etc, etc while on heart he's probably the nicest character around.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: It's revealed in Episode Ten that Homura, of all characters, used to be one before ending up in a Groundhog Day Loop. However, by the current timeline, she has Took a Level in Badass into the Shell Shocked Senior we know.
- Yuki from Tsuritama, a male example of this trope played equally for comedy and drama. The poor kid is so shy it takes him halfway through the series to muster up the courage to so much as talk to some casual acquaintances and overcoming social anxiety is one of the major themes of the show.
- Mimi Usa from Kodomo no Jikan
- Misaki from Hana no Mizo Shiru initially comes across as a fairly standard Tsundere character, but seems to fit this trope in later chapters. From Chapter 6 and onwards his sad backstory and resulting insecurities are revealed in pieces, and he increasingly comes across as more shy and self-conscious. And he fit the "quiet" and "friendless" aspects of the trope all along.
- Salu "Shrinking Violet" Digby of the Legion of Super-Heroes lived up to this trope in the post-Zero Hour reboot. The most recent reboot subverts this trope by making Salu a brash Action Girl.
- Felipe from Mafalda is a male Western example.
- Raven from Teen Titans.
- Believe it or not, seductive vamp Poison Ivy from Batman was one, before she became the psychopath she is today.
- In many Harry Potter fanfics, Remus Lupin is one of these.
- In Kira Is Justice, Justin is this.
- In contrast with the rest of the Amazon Brigade that she belongs to, we have Meliya of ToyHammer.
- Nyx from the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan fic Past Sins is one of these, which is ironic since she's Nightmare Moon reborn.
- Tael Beryllia in The Blue Blur of Termina, contrasting his more extroverted sister Tatl.
- Nobody Dies. Asuka. Langley. Sohryu. A Combination of the changes made by the backstory, Kyoko's initial personality, Pieter's leaving Kyoko and leaving them for another woman (who is even worse than his first wife, amazingly enough.) has left Asuka a stuttering, self-depreciating nervous wreck with multiple personalities. Things get so much "better".
- The titular character of Stephen King's Carrie starts out as a normal Shrinking Violet and is pushed over the edge into supernaturally psycho territory by a malicious prank pulled by the popular girls.
- The titular character of May is a similar example, minus the telekinesis. Poor May's only comfortable social interactions are with the doll she calls her best friend. She's so shy that she can barely talk in the presence of other people at all, even when they're clearly interested in getting to know her. Although once she's decided to kill them all, she becomes much more confident.
- Funnily enough the actress that portrays May (Angela Bettis) also played Carrie in the NBC TV remake in 2002.
- Cadet Hooks from the first Police Academy movie spends almost the entire film unable to look other characters in the eye and barely speaking above a quiet whisper, until very near the end when arresting a suspect when she screams "DON'T MOVE, DIRTBAG!". She continues to do that in every other Police Academy movie she's in. (Really, if someone that quiet started yelling like that and had a gun, wouldn't you feel like doing what they said?)
- Prince Albert (later, King George VI) of The King's Speech has a painful stammer, which has, of course, left him deathly afraid of public speaking and large crowds in general. Of course, the crux of the film features him attempting to rectify this in the face of the looming threat of World War II.
- Mui, the female lead of Shaolin Soccer. Hair in the face, mumbling, acne, withdrawn, eventually pulling out of life in public to become a nun. Until the final showdown, of course.
- The titular character of Densha Otoko is a rare male example. He's a cripplingly shy Otaku who's perfectly content with living in his own little world and only talking to people online. That is until he meets a kind and beautiful girl who's actually...*gasp* interested in him! With encouragement and advice from the members of his online community, he pursues her and finally learns to open up a little.
- Barry from Punch-Drunk Love is another male example, though he deals with his shyness and frustration through aggressiveness.
- 5, from 9 is yet another male example (despite being a ragdoll, yes, he is male). Shy, skittish, hardly ever makes eye contact with those "above" him...The fact that he's also The Woobie help this.
- Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters: Both Kimitake and Mizoguchi have stammers and are painfully shy and awkward. By the time they get over it real and fictional Japan are in for a shock or two.
- In the novel Speak, the main character goes through almost the entire school year basically trying to make it seems like she doesn't exist, because she called the cops at a party over the summer and her old friends and many people she doesn't even know hate her, even though her reason was that she was raped.
- Lirael from the 'Old Kingdom novels by Garth Nix. A Second Assistant Librarian who, with borderline Wangst bemoans her lack of the Sight, which prevents her from being a Mad Oracle like the rest of the Clayr. Admittedly, it's not like the rest of the Clayr do anything to make her feel loved in the slightest. She gets... better.
- Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter series started out like this before he Took a Level in Badass.
- Ginny Weasley plays with this. It's stated by the Weasleys that Ginny acts as a Shrinking Violet when around Harry, but is more or less normal when not in his presence. When we first meet her until about the third or fourth book, she has become friends with people like Hermione and Luna (to whom she is the Only Friend for a while) is a lot more outspoken - which helps her to actually catch his attention, sorta.
- Elizabeth "Beth" March of Little Women finds it very difficult, even painful, to talk to people outside her immediate family, and even stops going to school out of shyness. She gets... a little better, but not too much. And then, she becomes an Ill Girl and dies. Sniff.
- "Mother" in the Phule's Company series by Robert Asprin. Nearly the only time she speaks at a normal volume is over the communication network (she's also been a radio DJ). Talking to people in the same room is nearly impossible for her, except under serious emotional stress. Subverted in the sense that "Mother" is revealed to actually have an extremely confident and outgoing personality - she just has a neurological tic that renders her unable to talk if she can hear the sound of her own voice, which is why she's only chatty with her headphones on. (The woman once did a nude photo shoot, fer gossake.)
"How did you get Mother to go along with it?"
- Little Miss Shy from the Mr. Men and Little Misses Books (and also in the 80s and 90s TV series).
- Hal in Havemercy is a rare male representative of this trope.
- Christine in Phantom by Susan Kay describes herself once as a shrinking violet, another time as a "wilting marigold," and again as a shrinking mouse.
- Axel from The Princess 99 is shy, especially around boys but this is because she's insecure. Of course this changes the longer she hangs around Maree-Celee and Skye, the embodiment of a loud-mouthed woman. An adult example would be Prof. Colette, who barely speaks above a whisper but don't piss her off.
- Matthew Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables. He's an incredibly shy, older gentleman who gets unbearably nervous whenever talking to women or children (or even other men, sometimes). It's implied that he never had any romance in his life due to this. Of course, deep down, he's one of the biggest softies in the story. But he certainly has it bad - one notable scene includes him being sent to the store to buy Anne a pretty dress for Christmas. Unfortunately for him, the clerk is a woman, and he's shy to the point where he stammers and tutters that he wants to buy a... garden rake, and... hayseed...in the middle of winter. And even then, he got flustered to the point where he bought twenty pounds of brown sugar. Anne once asks him if he's ever gone courting, and the author states that he'd never thought of such a thing in his life.
- Maybeth in The Tillerman Family Series, to the point where in the first book she was mistaken for retarded partially because of her shyness.
- In Dean Koontz's Watchers, Nora is somewhere between this and a Fragile Flower for much of the novel thanks to the emotional abuse she suffered most of her life courtesy of her aunt Violet. She later grows out of it when Travis and Einstein save her from Art Streck.
- David Cusk in The Pale King.
- Magda is one in Frieda Friedman's The Janitor's Girl. She overcomes much of her shyness when she makes friends with the help of her extremely cute cousin Anton.
- Jenny of Jenny and the Cat Club, by Esther Averill. Her friends help her overcome her shyness, as does her unexpected talent for ice skating.
- Robin Morgan in Lynn Hall's The Shy Ones, who overcomes her own shyness by helping her dog Katie overcome hers.
- Fanny Price from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, who is something of Trope Codifier/ Trope Maker. 8 years of psychological abuse and so little love will do that to you. Thankfully, she's able to stand up when it counts.
- Ruth in Someone Else's War may be the most tragic case of this trope. All the more moving when she improves.
Live Action TV
- An early episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a girl who acted this way; nobody in the school noticed her, or for that matter even knew she existed. Through a combination of quantum physics Techno Babble and the nature of the Hellmouth, she became invisible and snapped, taking revenge on the popular girls. The end of the episode revealed that she apparently wasn't the first girl this had happened to.
- Tara also fits this trope, especially in her early appearances (in season 4 and early season 5).
- Willow also began the show as a painfully shy and innocent Shrinking Violet, but as her self-confidence and magical abilities improved, she evolved into more of a live-action Cute Witch (complete with a temporary transformation into a Dark Magical Girl.
- Pam and Phyllis from The Office, initially
- Keith Dudemeister for his debut episode in Scrubs. His character gets major development after that.
- Michael Lee from The Wire is one of these.
- Young Ned from Pushing Daisies. His shyness, albeit to a lesser degree, extends into adulthood.
- Kotoha Hanori from Samurai Sentai Shinkenger is this, except when she is around one of her common shipping partners (Chiaki or Takeru, sometimes Genta) or her Les Yay Friend/Big sis figure Mako.
- So is Nobuo Akagi in the upcoming Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger.
- Ally Dawson from Austin and Ally is this too, as she gets stage fright.
- Where is Tina Cohen-Chang from Glee? So painfully shy she faked a stutter so that she wouldn't have to interact with people.
- From Noah's Arc, Noah briefly became one after being gay bashed.
- Yuri Kazune from Mr. Brain, although she does have a few moments of assertiveness. Not that anybody listens to her when she does, though.
- Marcelina from the Mexican children's series Carrusel.
- On Boy Meets World when Eric goes to Hollywood to be an actor on a Self-Parody Show Within a Show the actor who plays the Shawn Expy is one of these, in contrast to the more confident character he plays.
- In Persona 3, there's Fuuka Yamagishi, the team's resident Mysterious Waif and Mission Control, who has a school reputation for being frail, shy and easily bullied. She's actually much more resilient and headstrong than her reputation suggests, but when Junpei "Casanova Wannabe" Iori points out how developed she looks in a swimsuit, she can only manage a panicked, inarticulate squeak and quickly hides behind the other female party members in embarrassment.
- And possibly topping Fuuka is "Justice" social link NPC Chihiro Fushimi, the painfully shy student council treasurer who literally can't speak to any male character about anything at all without stammering. Completing her social link Sidequest helps her get better, and reveals that she's also a (very mild) Type B Tsundere. By Persona 4, she's overcome her shyness enough to become Student Council President.
- And a third, surprising, example in Persona 3 is Akihiko Sanada. The team's Spirited Competitor and school boxing champion, most of the time he's an Aloof Big Brother sort that most of the girls in the school would love to date ...at least, until he actually tries to impress a girl, and falls into a nervous stammer. A character video late in the game shows him reading books in his room on how to talk to girls and trying, and failing, to rehearse a conversation without getting flustered.
- This is probably best exemplified by talking to him in Tartarus when playing as a female protagonist in a romance with him. Up to this point, Akihiko has consistently shown the ability to filter out distractions while fighting, even when emotions are running high. But when the female player merely speaks to him then, he's reduced to this: "Wh... What? Oh... sorry... I’m... kind of nervous... ...Don’t look at me too much."
- Mio Kisaragi, Megumi Mikihara and Miharu Tatebayashi from the first Tokimeki Memorial. Each, in their own ways: Mio is a Meganekko Ill Girl, Megumi is very sheltered and naive, Miharu is clumsy and awkward.
- Fire Emblem has a few:
- The Mage Tinny in Fire Emblem 4, second generation, due to years of abuse and seeing her genki mother Tiltyu completely broken and later dead due to it. Azel is a male version.
- The Pegasus Knight Florina in Fire Emblem 7, since she's very scared of males (though she grows out of this and can either marry a very brash Hot-Blooded guy or become the partner of her Action Girl best friend). Also Ninian, but due to her traumatic past and guilt issues.
- The Manakete Myrrh in Fire Emblem 8: she's been sheltered an revered as pretty much a living goddess in Caer Pelyn her whole life and leaving home brings her quite the misfortune until she's rescued by Ephraim.
- Path of Radiance brings us Astrid, sheltered noblewoman who, though she wants to prove herself, fits this quite perfectly, she even looks like Hinata. Nephenee also fits this trope, which makes both characters Ensemble Dark Horses.
- Mia Ausa from Lunar: The Silver Star.
- Namine in Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2. Less so in her final appearance, Kingdom Hearts II.
- Despinis, one of the Homunculus of Duminuss in Super Robot Wars Reversal fits this trope to a T. Even when attacking, there's not a chance she'll not slip up the phrase "I'm sorry". All with a face of a half-sick, super shy Lolicon bait. On the bright side, she does have some sort of kindness streak and this proves to be beneficial that in OG Gaiden, instead of dying like in her original role in R, she ends up surviving.
- Emil from Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World fits this trope squarely. It probably doesn't help that everyone else in his hometown, his own aunt and uncle included, believe he's a worthless scum who'd be better off dead.
- Emil also subverts this trope in Ratatosk Mode, where he becomes a very blunt Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and pretty much the exact opposite of the "Normal" Emil.
- In Pokémon there's Jasmine, the Gym Leader of Olivine City, to the point where her gym has no other trainers in it besides herself. She makes a cameo appearance in the fourth generation games and proves to be just as timid as ever.
- The fourth generation also has Marley, who only speaks just enough to get the point across.
- Male example in the fifth generation is Cilan. Compared to his anime counterpart, the Cilan in the game comes off as very shy and having almost no confidence in his ability. His tendency to stutter before, during and after the battle doesn't help his case and when you compare his personality to his brothers Chili and Cress, it's very jarring.
- Male example: Vivi from Final Fantasy IX.
- Mr. Lopez from Fallout 3.
- Another male example: Shizumaru Hisame from Samurai Shodown.
- Chihaya from The Idolmaster is very much like this, overlapping a bit with Kuudere.
- Yukiho, too.
- Tali'Zorah vas Normandy in Mass Effect 2, who is shocked (and later grateful) that Commander Shepard would be willing to return the feelings she's harbored for him since the first game. And bless Liara's heart! At least in the first game, but she still has that adorable "I just want to help" personality ...
- Although Tali dose act quite reserved in her romance (as stated above), keep in mind that she isn't generally shy and is capable of having a conversation without stuttering or getting nervous
- The Fairy prince Edgar from the King's Quest series. Justified by the fact he's spent most of his life being "raised" by the cruel and vicious Lolotte, and was transformed into a deformed, ugly, green-skinned hunchback. He can barely make eye contact with Rosella without blushing. He's developed a bit more of a spine in his second appearance, but he's still very shy and quiet.
- They cover their faces with masks and wear robes that cover their entire bodies... clearly, Shy Guys are the kings of this trope.
- Also the Boos, who will stalk and haunt Mario as he attempts to go about his adventures, preparing to rip him apart with their razor-sharp fangs.... but can't do it if he's looking at them.
- Male example: Lucas from Mother 3 prior to Character Development.
- EarthBound also has an entire village of small creatures who are too shy to talk to the player, or even to each other.
- Cloud in Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core, as a gawky teenager with no self-esteem and one friend. The final scene shows him starting the story of Final Fantasy VII - under the fake persona of a glamorous, arrogant, jerk Badass Professional Killer who is always at the centre of attention and doesn't need friends.
- Karen, the girl who gives Masayuki a love letter in A Profile, is so shy and socially misfit that when giving a love letter (something that Masayuki's friends laugh at) she forgets to add her name or meet him for several days despite the fact that he responds rather positively.
- Ron Delite of the third Ace Attorney game was this, to the point that his dialogue often trails off into inaudibility (represented by the text fading into the background). This is rather ironic because his alter ego is the flamboyant thief Mask☆DeMasque.
- Also, Ben Woodman, the ventriloquist from the second game. Will Powers is a bit of a Shrinking Sunflower as well.
- Ben, in fact, is so bad about this that he completely lacks the capacity to function among other people without the aid of his (rather abusive) dummy, Trilo Quist.
- Pearl Fey. When you first meet her, she doesn't even talk to you. She warms up pretty soon, though.
- Vera Misham, the defendant from case 4-4, is a Hikikomori who talks... in fragmented... sentences... and hides... from you... when you visit... the Detention Center...
- Iris. She is the EXACT definition of a Shrinking Violet, with black hair, purple clothes, and seeming so much like a girl who is nice no matter what.
- Also, Ben Woodman, the ventriloquist from the second game. Will Powers is a bit of a Shrinking Sunflower as well.
- Shindou Chihiro from Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two.
- Sakura Matou from Fate Stay Night, due to the horrendous mental and physical abuse that she suffers from her brother and Grandfather.
- Hanako Ikezawa of Katawa Shoujo most definitely counts. The first time Hisao tries to talk to her, she actually runs away.
- Kotonoha from School Days.
- Sayo aka Shannon from Umineko no Naku Koro ni.
- Rhoda of El Goonish Shive is a near-literal example, a petite girl whose perception of her own size actually shrinks when she feels intimidated. She appeared early on in the background of one single strip, and became a bit of a fan favorite despite the fact that she hadn't done anything at that point.
- Tedd was a male example prior to receiving the TF Gun.
- Punned and subverted in Everyday Heroes
- Male example: Doug from Fletcher Apts, especially when it comes to women. Also a Hollywood Nerd and Butt Monkey when Bill is involved.
- Faen in Drowtales, just adding to her Woobie quotient. as seen here.
- Jolene Brooks ("Brooksie") of Between Failures is something like this.
- Secret of Keychain of Creation is like this, a renegade abyssal of all things who suffers from severe self-esteem issues.
- Wright As Rayne proudly features Laura Croft, who unlike a different character with a similar name, couldn't be more timid if she tried.
- Katherine of Wapsi Square started out like this, but she is now a bit more confident, and at least willing to speak to some people.
- Gebo, the white wolf in Off White. More like a real wolf then the evil, vicious monster, or emotionless, badass loner, stereotypes.
- Ninth Elsewhere: The main character, Carmen, has elements of this.
- While a party for her is being thrown downstairs: "Maybe if I stay up here long enough they'll decide to just leave me alone."
- Neeka from Late Blooming is impossibly shy, to the point of hardly ever talking to anyone and putting all effort into avoiding contact with people.
- In Our Little Adventure, Emily the witch is a downplayed example of this.
- Erika Swanson of Erika's New Perfume is definitely one of these, though she is very gradually coming out of it. Still not helped by the situation she wound up in trying to magically resolve it, even if it is slowly doing the trick.
- Subverted in Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog. The titular character is painfully shy, and has been quietly in love with a girl from his laundromat for months. Ironically, his alter ego is a megalomaniacal villain who wants to rule the world.
- Nessiah in Dept Heaven Apocrypha almost never talks to people he doesn't like and trust—in addition to being very shy, he's been through excessive amounts of trauma recently, and is still recovering from aphasia, which makes it difficult for him to string full sentences together anyway. He's still his usual dere self around Milanor, though.
- Christine on The War Comms, big time. Her sentences more often than not end with "um...please don't hurt me for saying so...".
- Gloria Benson in V4 of Survival of the Fittest. She's always whispering, stuttering, and blushing when she speaks. Even when she talks to her friends, she's painfully shy/quiet, and keeps apologizing for what she says. Lucy Ashmore, also from v4, qualifies as well. She's just as shy, due to bullying. Not to mention sometimes this slides into Cute Clumsy Girl territory as well, due to her nervousness.
- This youtube account has documentaries on what it's like to have the DSM recognized personality disorders including the avoidant.
- Need Shrinking Violet personified? Well, look no further than the appropriately-named Violet Parr from The Incredibles. Not only is she incredibly shy, but she also has the hair, the mumble, and a desire to be just another girl, and she can't even look the school heartthrob, Tony Rydiger, in the eye. Her family are superheroes in hiding, and her powers are invisibility and force fields - Word of God is that these are symbolic of her personality, respectively being her wish to hide from everyone else and her need for insulation from the rest of the world. Needless to say, she embraces her abnormalities, gets an Adrenaline Makeover, and puts her hair back in the process of helping her family save the world.
- And to top it all off, by the end of the movie, it's Tony who can't look Violet in the eye, instead of the reverse. Think about it.
- She also gains the ability of flight when forced to save her brother, stating she didn't know she could. Both seem equally surprised.
- A rare male, yet non-Butt Monkey example: Austin from The Backyardigans also embodies this trope. Not only he's purple (violet), during the first season he was very shy and didn't speak a lot (heck, he had songs about that). Over the course of the series, he becomes more outgoing and gets dynamic lead roles.
- Sheila the Thief from the Dungeons and Dragons animated series.
- Boo from Mighty Orbots.
- Stacy from Daria, the shy and sweetest member of Quinn's Fashion Club.
- Male example: Shifty Dingo in the 2nd season of Blinky Bill after his Heel Face Turn easily qualifies as one of these. He's much more quiet than the rest of the gang and also has a Lovable Coward side to him.
- Another male (kinda) example from Futurama would be Kif Kroker, who is usually a Deadpan Snarker when dealing with his boss Zapp Brannigan, but seems to show this side when his Love Interest Amy is around. In the episode that brought them together as a couple, she kept getting phone calls of someone breathing and panting heavily on the other end; she assumed they were prank calls, when it was really Kif calling to tell her how he feels, but too scared to say anything, thus hyperventilating until he hung up.
- Another male example is Mac from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, as he's the shyest, smartest, and sweetest boy on the show.
- The Funny Company, a syndicated series from the early 1960s, featured a girl named Violet who really did shrink down to doll size when she felt self-conscious.
- In the Disney adaption of Alice in Wonderland, when Alice stumbles on to a talking garden, they promised her that they would sing a song to her. All the flowers wanted to sing about themselves. The violets wanted to sing about themselves, and when they brought up the suggestion, they were quiet and they slowly backed up in the shade below the other flowers.
- The aptly named Fluttershy of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic first introduces herself to Twilight Sparkle by whispering her name, getting softer and squeakier with each attempt. Though she will speak up excitedly if exposed to cute things. Fortunately her pet bunny Angel always tries to bring her out of her shell and encourages her to stand up for what she wants. Fluttershy also drops the Shrinking Violet act if her friends are threatened. She stares down a dragon despite having a deathly fear of dragons, and later does the same to a cockatrice while it's turning her to stone.
- She completely DROPS the Shrinking Violet act and trades it for some Cute and Psycho when the animals at the Grand Galloping Gala ignore and run away from her.
- Her shy nature was deconstructed in the episode "Putting Your Hoof Down," where she found that her shyness to be a disadvantage and therefore sought the self-help instructor Iron Will to make her more assertive. It works a little too well, but by the episode's end, she manages to snap out of it, and learns that it is in fact possible to be assertive without becoming a Jerkass.
- Doug Funnie, the titular character of Doug, is a more subtle male example, however it usually depends on the episode.
- Kim Possible: Shego's brother Mego is a pun on this trope; his costume is purple and he's mentioned to have some issues over his superpowers ("He's a shrinker"). He's not an actual example though—he's pretty much the exact opposite, routinely engaging in overblown poor-me melodrama.
- In what must have been a freak coincidence or a mass collective consciousness outburst, a recent[when?] online poll asking the citizens of Israel to pick their national flower was confidently led by the bold, bright red Anemone-coronaria, until the very last hours of the voting where people saw the anemone was winning and started voting en masse for the Cyclamen - a flower which has about it a long-established folk mythology of female shy and purple anthropomorphism, going back to an ancient legend of King Solomon praising "her" for her shyness and purpleness and humility and whatnot. In essence, this was the triumph of the Shrinking Violet by a twisted form of voter preference backlash culminating in Down to the Last Play. Wow.
- Partially a case of Truth in Television, the condition is known as Avoidant personality disorder, these people have a crippling fear of rejection and constant worries of looking foolish or bad, they closely monitor everything they say, and every reaction from anyone they're speaking to, (on the rare occasion that they even do speak to others) this often results in broken speech patterns and a lack of fluency, due to having their attention split between tasks. These people will often wind up choosing to be lonely, rather than risk rejection. However, where the trope fails the reality test is in the "growing out of it" part. In reality, the condition usually just becomes worse and worse. Sufferers rarely seek help, either because they don't want to waste a therapist's time, or they are worried they'll be rejected by them (Although, in TV land, there's another reason). In a painful irony many sufferers, due to their lack of speaking or participating in activities, are viewed as aloof or arrogant. When really, they're so nervous when they're spoken to that they may be rendered literally incapable of speech. This is of course, the most severe form of this personality disorder; there are plenty of others who remain functional, but very shy, isolated from society and unhappy with their situation. With a proper support network involving family and friends, such people can be coaxed into therapy, where counseling and medication can alleviate many of the symptoms.
- A more common and less severe version that also results in people that fit this trope is Social Phobia (also known as Social Anxiety Disorder). Encountering unfamiliar people or being placed in a situation where the sufferer is possibly subject to scrutiny leads to intense anxiety or panic attacks.
- Lacking the necessary social skills to get along with other kids, the efforts of some children with Asperger's Syndrome to make friends usually have the opposite effect; after so many years of being bullied and ignored and not really understanding why, it's no wonder that many of them turn into shy adults with a crippling lack of self-confidence, even after they've learned how to emulate correct behaviour.
- Actress Madeline Zima tends to sound very shy when she talks, which adds significantly to her Moe-appeal. Has said that her sisters often have to force her to talk to a guy.
- United States President Calvin Coolidge, who became known for his laconic nature as a result.
President Calvin Coolidge confessed that he was so shy it was an ordeal to fulfill his duties to people. He recalled that as a small boy he could be in a panic when he heard strangers in the kitchen of his home and knew that he must go into the kitchen and meet them. “I am all proper with pals,” Coolidge said, “however each time I meet a stranger I've got to undergo the previous kitchen door again home, and it is not easy.”
- Lord Henry Cavendish, an eighteenth century English scientist and recluse was so painfully shy that he communicated with his housekeeper by letter. He would, rarely, attend parties. Guests who wanted his august opinion were advised to approach and speak, "as it were, into a vacancy" and hope to hear a mumbled reply. More likely they'd hear a mortified squeak and turn to find he'd fled. However, his seclusion left him the free time to be as meticulous as humanly possible and thus he was the first to discover the gravitational constant (it required measuring the minuscule torque on a wire caused by the gravitational attraction of two metal balls. From another room. Through a telescope.) Unfortunately both for Cavendish and for science, he also didn't publish his findings, which often meant that a) others got the credit, and b) those findings were delayed, sometimes by decades.
- According to historians, young Louis XVI of France. He was described as shy, having no social graces, and very hesitant.
- Actor Colin Morgan is very shy. He comes across as reserved, blushing and very hesitant in most of his interviews. This adds to his Moe and Adorkable appeal, as even his fellow star admitted to being jealous by all the attention he receives for this.
Bradly James: "Everyone loves Colin "Awww he's so nice, so innocent. You know aww Colin aww. But Bradley, don't worry about Bradley, he's fine, he'll, you know... whatever. Colin awww, we'll look after Colin, awwwww."
- Actress Kristen Stewart is another fine example. She's constantly fidgety, looking scared and awkward whenever in spot light, biting her lips, nails and dropping her awards on the floor in nervousness.
- Another scientist example is that of the Chinese mathematician Chen Jingrun. His first job after graduating from the math major—teaching high school math—only last for a single year because by the time he already had two Heroic BSODs that required hospitalization. He was transferred (remember, we're talking a period when China was a Soviet clone) to the post of an university librarian, which, ironically, jump started his mathematician career...
- Comedian Mitch Hedberg's signature style (wearing sunglasses, hunching over the microphone and spending most of his acts staring at the floor) was due to a crippling stage fright. Those mannerisms helped him forget that an audience was watching him.
Please stop looking at me...
- Translation: "Soundless"
- Her two roommates have the 1st and 4th largest breast sizes in the class.