A character who believes that the world is, to put it lightly, a bad place. Who expects the worst from everyone, believing that Humans Are Morons and/or Bastards and morality is grey and grey, grey and black, or black and black, assuming they subscribe to any notion of morality at all. If someone puts forward an idealistic or optimistic premise, The Cynic is about equally likely to respond with 'That's moronic,' as 'That's a nice idea in theory, never going to happen.' This character may be indifferent to their (perceived) Crapsack World, or may be heavily critical and sarcastic.

Related to The Cynic and very often overlapping is The Pessimist, who will always expect the worst out of everyone and everything, believing that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and sometimes even things that can't. The Cynic, however, is likely to be more apathetic and less Wangsty about the whole thing.

The Trope Namers, the Greek Cynics, were not especially cynical as we now understand the term - they believed that people should reject all conventional notions of happiness, like those that involved wealth, power, fame, idealism, etc., and live a simple, natural life with no possessions, sharing some similarities with Buddhism. However, since many of the Cynics (such as Diogenes of Sinope, one of the pioneers of the philosophy) took the philosophy to its extreme, criticizing traditional social values while living in squalor ('cynic' is from the Greek word kynikos, 'dog-like'), they were seen by thinkers in the late 18th and early 19th century as pessimists, misanthropes and Nietzsche Wannabes.

This character is likely to show up in either a Crapsack World, where they are always right, or in a Sugar Bowl, where they exist solely to be proven wrong. Of course, in more realistic settings more nuanced forms of cynic can also turn up, their rightness index varying.

Polar opposite of The Idealist. Compare/contrast The Stoic. See also Cynicism Tropes, Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.


This is a Super-Trope, so examples should go to the relevant sub-trope pages.