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"I'm not like other people. I can't stand pain. It hurts me."—Daffy Duck, The Abominable Snow Rabbit
Empathy is the ability to share in another person's emotions. The capability to be happy because someone else is happy, sad because they are sad, and so on. It is closely linked to love and compassion. Guilt, too, comes from the ability of a character to put themselves in the shoes of someone they've hurt.
A lack of empathy is a major character trait, one that drives many others. Characters that lack empathy feel neither guilt nor remorse, nor any kind of meaningful love. The villain will often have this trait, and will be denounced as a psychopath, or a sociopath. Real-world disorders with the same names inform this trope, but the relationship is very loose.
These characters may feel fear, but not the fear of others, regardless of the situation. This kind of guy can walk calmly through a crazed mob. For good or ill, these folk are not susceptible to social panic.
Note that a character who lacks empathy can still be perfectly capable of cognitive empathy; that is, the ability to recognise and identify an emotion- they might not be able to share in somebody's happiness or sadness, but they have learnt well enough what happiness or sadness look like, and coupled with the lack of remorse this tends to result in a ruthlessly effective Manipulative Bastard.
On the flip side, just because a character has empathy does not mean that they possess one ounce of compassion or sympathy, though the lack of either usually coincides with at least a diminished sense of empathy. This is where The Sociopath should not be confused with someone with Aspergers or another form of autism; the former usually has perfect cognitive empathy, but utterly lacks emotional or compassionate empathy; the latter on the other hand has defective cognitive empathy, but normal or even hyper-effective emotional or compassionate empathy. The Sociopath is generally superficially charming and polite, a social chameleon, but this pretense of empathy is simply that, a pretense, a mere ruse to attain a tangible end.
Jerkasses, Complete Monsters, the Moral Myopic and The Soulless tend to express this trope. When taken to its logical conclusion it leads to It's All About Me. Often an integral part of Comedic Sociopathy. Sometimes characters with a Lack of Empathy have a Freudian Excuse up their sleeve. These characters often shrug off charges of their actions with But for Me It Was Tuesday.
Not to be confused with No Sympathy, which refers to characters who supposedly do have an ability to empathise, but completely fail to demonstrate it. Overlaps with The Sociopath. Kids Are Cruel and Teens Are Monsters often have this trope.
Anime & Manga Edit
- The homunculi of Fullmetal Alchemist are a perfect example, with the possible exception of Greed. They either enjoy harming humans or simply don't care, and even in cases where they have a Morality Pet, have no empathy towards anyone else.
- Solf J. Kimblee too, who seems to have been written as after a serious look at real-life sociopathy. He seems to be aware of his differing mentality from others and therefore goes to great lengths to disguise it, but at the end of the day he's still an ammoral guy who honestly doesn't believe that there's any moral difference between slaughtering people as a soldier and saving them as a doctor; to him both are just doing their job (which, if they do well, he applauds equally). Essentially, Kimblee defines his entire code of morality (or lack thereof) based on how much a person follows through on their beliefs or occupation, regardless if it's saving or killing others; his psychopathy is too extreme for society's rules to matter to him. While he can demonstrate a certain amount of respect for another person, it's always in a very detatched way, and he's completely incapable of feeling genuine empathy. There's a reason both Pride and Envy like him.
- The anime version of Kimblee is, if anything, even worse. He considers all living things, himself included, as little more than walking bomb components and practically lives for the sake of spreading misery and pain, joining whoever lets him blow up people consequence-free.
- Pride literally is this. He is so devoid of empathy that he views the other homunculi as lowly as the other homunculi view humans. And while Father shows a measure of affection for his "children", he has even less empathy for humankind then they do. As a comparison, Envy has, on multiple occasions, laughed openly at the "foolishness" of humanity. When Ling Yao accuses Father of doing the same, his response is roughly:
Do you look at insects and worms on the ground and think them foolish? No. Your position is so far above theirs that you cannot feel one way or the other about them, right? That is how I see humankind.
- The Big Bad of the anime, Dante, is almost as bad as Father. She's been Body Surfing through different bodies for more than two centuries and mass sacrificed humans, not to mention caused dozens of wars, disease outbreaks and worse, just to keep her Philosopher Stone fix going. Unlike Father and the Homunculi she doesn't even have an excuse as she's 100% human, just a completely selfish sociopath who believes It's All About Me.
- Dragon Ball is filled with these kind of villains. Examples include Tao Pai Pai, Piccolo Daimao, Broly, Cell, Turles, Babidi, Majin Buu and especially Frieza.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Satoko's Evil Uncle Teppei and her aunt Tamae, Rina, and ESPECIALLY Miyo Takano.
- Candy Candy: Candy's step-siblings Eliza and Neal Reagan, but most specifically Eliza, who seems to hate and pick on Candy for no real reason at all.
- Ulquiorra from Bleach mostly because he doesn't understand what it means to be human and the human emotions that come with it. Some more straight examples are Aizen, Grimmjow, Nnoitra, Mayuri, and Szayel Apollo Granz.
- Notably in Mayuri's case, he describes in horrific detail the experiments he carried out on the souls of the Quincies, and then proceeds to complain about the difficulty of getting specimens.
- Death Note: Light Yagami starts out as a fairly nice guy who wants to change the world for the better, but that all changes as soon as he gets his hands on a Death Note and he eventually becomes so unhinged that he is all too willing to kill and manipulate pretty much anyone who gets in his way, or whomever he believes is a threat to him.
- His "girlfriend", Misa Amane, is arguably even worse. With the sole exception of Light, she never cares about or even acknowledges the pain of others (applies both to pain she witnesses and pain she causes). Even when Sayu Yagami, Light's little sister, is kidnapped, she is as cheerful and happy-go-lucky as ever, apparently not understanding that something like this would naturally upset Light.
- Yuno from Mirai Nikki is this and a Yandere to boot. More to the point, she only has empathy for Yukiteru, even though her definition of empathy is quite twisted.
- Mukuro from Katekyo Hitman Reborn, although he does have his Pet the Dog moments.
- Hibari is a much more straightforward example.
- Let's not forget Byakuran.
- Gaara from Naruto at first. Sasuke also becomes largely apathetic after finding out the truth about Itachi and doesn't particularly care if he harms others or even himself, so long as he can get his revenge. One of the most effective examples of this is when he casually massacres a legion of Samurai who were protecting a diplomatic meeting he was crashing purely because he couldn't be bothered not to kill them and doesn't think twice to leave his entire team to die after they save his life repeatedly seconds earlier.
- Orochimaru too, and Kabuto.
- Madara Uchiha.
- And Sasori. He says he wouldn't feel any different about his grandmother dying than he would about all the hundreds to thousands he's killed, then when Sakura is outraged by this, he tells her ninja shouldn't feel that way.
- A few of the Diclonius in Elfen Lied. Lucy's different because deep deep down, she actually does feel guilty about the murders.
- The Unknown Man from the manga, Mayu's mother and stepfather, Mariko, and the cruel kids from Lucy's childhood.
- The titular Haruhi Suzumiya starts out this way, but she gets better. Ryoko Asakura, on the other hand, doesn't.
- Johan Liebert.
- Also Grimmer and Bonaparta, both of whom end up as subversions
- It's suggested, even more chillingly, in the semi-sequel Another Monster that Johan may actually possess empathy. He just also has the ability to efficiently ignore it.
- Also Grimmer and Bonaparta, both of whom end up as subversions
- Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic is a heroic example of this. He finds it extremely hard to understand other people's feelings, and tends to do very morally ambiguous things without much consideration for others. Most of the time it's played for laughs. There are numerous times where he finds himself unable to understand why someone feels fear or sadness (even when someone died).
- Justified somewhat as he's been exposed to death quite a bit and BSODing on the battlefield can get you killed.
- Also Gauron and Gates.
- Sousuke's Evil Counterpart Zaied is an extreme example of this. A borderline Empty Shell, Zaied sold out his comrades in order to fullfill his desire to be on the winning side and shows no qualms about cutting down Sousuke, the only survivour, when they encounter one another years later. There's quite literally nothing left of Zaied. He has no empathy for anyone; truly an example of It's All About Me.
- Sunako of Shiki first appears as this. Being quite indifferent to deaths of many humans at the hands of the Shiki, though showing sympathy to a priest who has embraced a form of Nihilism. But later she acts very emotional when the humans pull the same stuff on the Shiki.
- Most of the villains in One Piece.
- Seishirou Sakurazuka of Tokyo Babylon and X.
- Comes with the Contractor package in Darker Than Black.
- Kazuo Kiriyama from the Battle Royale manga. He's revealed to actually physically be unable to feel empathy, as he got in an accident when he was young and apparently lost all of his emotions. Of course, from the way this is presented, quite a few people consider this completely Narmy. There are some effective moments, though - at one point he chooses to let some kids befriend him on the results of a coin flip; on the island, he flips a coin again (at their urging), and when they lose the flip he slaughters them without a second's hesitation.
- The entirety of the Ranma One Half cast fall into this trope at one point or another due it being a series built on Comedic Sociopathy. The exceptions being maybe Kasumi and Tofu.
- Paul/Shinji from the Pokémon anime. He's the biggest jackass of a character the series has yet produced, short of a few of the villains. It makes sense, given that he's an Expy of Silver from the Pokémon Gold and Silver/Crystal games.
- A spectacular example from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is Ali Al-Saachez who actually finds empathy to be disgusting. His employer, Ribbons Almark is pretty lacking in this department as well.
- Most of the witches from Umineko no Naku Koro ni. Beatrice seems like this at first but its shown that despite the number of tortures/murders she commits, she likes Maria to the point where Maria is a Morality Pet of sorts to her. And then later, she's considered an imaginary friend to Natsuhi. Plus, despite how much time she spends fucking with Battler's mind and his life, it's apparent that she may also like him.
- Medusa from Soul Eater.
- In the opinions of some (Spirit and Nygus have mentioned it), Stein counts, although his more recent interactions with Marie could suggest they're misjudging him or simply - justifiably - wary of what he's like.
- Medusa's claim that she'd simply dispose of Crona as a failed experiment got an angry reaction out of both Spirit (obviously) and Stein. Which knowing her was likely her intention.
- Muraki from Yami no Matsuei.
- Takuma Fudou from GetBackers.
- Haguro from Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest. Also, Ryuuko has little empathy and lusts after whoever seems to have even less than she does. Haguro is convinced Inugami is this as well.
- Izaya Orihara of Durarara could definitely be interpreted as a sociopath. He likes to proclaim his love of humans (in a way that suggest he doesn't consider himself one), and spends his time manipulating others for his own amusement. Sometimes his actions are funny when viewed from the outside, especially when done to nasty people, but he has no compunction about harming innocents. While some people like and indeed fawn on him (generally girls), it's only because he's a convincing liar. Other than that, he has no friends to speak of.
- Later on though, this becomes subverted. As of volume 9 of the novel, Izaya is very capable of showing emotions. The closest thing he has shown was fear of losing Shinra during middle school after Shinra took a stab wound for him by another student that was out to hurt Izaya. Naturally, this event has affected him in more ways than one and his determination to get revenge on the person who hurt his only friend is very evident in this volume.
- Mikado shows shades of this as of volume 6. Aoba can't pinpoint what emotion Mikado has except that it's cold and emotionless. How dark Mikado is will be up for interpretation until later volumes.
- A good amount of the characters in Texhnolyze. Even the most sympathetic characters in Lux skirt close to being Villain Protagonists at times. Yoshii is definitely this. He came down from the Class in order to instigate a massive war between the groups. He states that his goal is to awaken the people from their sleep in order to build leaders of them, or in other words, to help them realize their full potential, even if they don't want him to. This involves him murdering innocent people and starting gang wars because he finds it "interesting", all with a pleasant smile on his face. While he may have an ideological purpose behind it all, it is so obscure that it only makes him look all the more hysterical.
- Yoshii is not of the Class. He is a Theonormal, a surface dweller, while the Class are mediators between the citizens of Lux and the surface. His motivation comes from the fact that where he comes from nobody fears death or cares for life. The way the people of Lux care about things makes him crave to see more of their deep will to live, and to do so, tries to throw the entire city into chaos of war of everybody versus everybody.
- Under Grand Hotel: This is Swordfish in a nutshell. Although he's in love with Sen he's a murderous bisexual who threatens anyone who expresses an interest in Sen with death, has sex with Sen to the point where it nearly kills Sen, tries to strangle him, kills the guys who raped Sen saying that he did it for Sen's sake even after Sen told him not to kill them, moves out of Sen's room and lets a rapist move in when angry with Sen, and slices the throat of another one of Sen's rapists right in front of him while saying "I love you, Sen." This being after he tried to get Sen to kill the guy himself but Sen refused.
- Katsuragi, Souma, and Sakurako of Sakura Gari. Initially, it seems as if It's All About Me with them, and that they'll do whatever it takes to get what they want even if they hurt/kill others in the process. Also, every one of Souma's lovers are shown to have horrible endings. He even notices and mentions it himself. Of course, this doesn't stop him from continuing to take lovers and he shows no remorse over their deaths. While he does develop a little empathy as a result of his interactions with Masataka, whom he had genuinely fallen in love with, his actions eventually end up driving Masataka away for good.
- Ryoki Tachibana from the manga Hot Gimmick. Although he's utterly obsessed with Hatsumi, the series' doormat female lead, he's usually far too up himself to ever do anything as pointless as care about her or anybody else, including his family. His response to most of her (considerable) problems is "forget it, just focus on me" and he gets pissed off at her for worrying about her family. In another scene, shortly after she had her heart broken and was almost raped he berates her for crying about it, comes on to her too strong and forcibly kisses her despite her protests. Later, however, he begins to develop genuine feelings for her, but still retains his possessive and inconsiderate nature. In the novel, his actions result in her dumping him for the more compassionate and caring Shinogu. It's later shown that Ryoki's family is disjointed and loveless, which is why he finds Hatsumi's devotion to her family incomprehensible, and cannot sympathize with her for it.
- Makoto Itou in the School Days anime.
- Dufort/Dufaux/Dyufo of Zatch Bell. Then again, Justified with all the hell he went through as a kid. I mean, he was sold off by his mother to an evil scientist who did nothing but make him unhappy or angry to see the effects on his Answer Talker. And then he got blown up. At least Zeon, the supposed Complete Monster saved him from certain death. Yes, the Complete Monster got sold off by his Complete Monster of a mother, got tortured, and then was saved from the Complete Monster torturing/attempting to kill him by the Complete Monster. Don't worry, It Got Better eventually. 50% less Complete Monster.
- Osamu Tezuka's MW uses this as its main theme in concern to the villain protagonist Michio, who as a little boy inhaled a gas that damaged his brain and turned him into a sociopath. His homosexual lover's (who also happens to be a priest) attempts to justify or curve his behavior is met with tragedy.
- Mori from Flame of Recca. Was more than willing to abuse his adoptive son Kurei by turning him into an emotionally stunted killing machine and create clones so that they can die protecting him or dispose of them himself when they're no longer useful (as he did by devouring his loyal clone Renge when he achieved his Tendou Jigoku state.) Kaima (whom merged with Mori to become the Tendou Jigoku) also counts, creating his own mad?gu for the sole purpose of killing.
- Kyubey in Puella Magi Madoka Magica doesn't understand why teenage girls get so worked up over things like finding out that he effectively tuned them into liches without their knowledge, and sees nothing wrong with using the hope and despair of those girls as a source of energy.
"You people are all the same. Every time I tell someone, it's the same response. I don't get it. Why do humans care so much where their souls are?"
- Agon Kongo from Eyeshield 21 is the classic sociopath: he's very good at socializing and pretending to be a charming young man, but lacks any affection for anyone. Interestingly, the one person he was somewhat empathetic to was his brother. His identical twin brother. Which might imply something about how his mind works.
- Near the end of the series, he does show some genuine empathy. Or at least tries to, in his own Jerkass way.
- Prince Schneizel. At first he seems to be a kind and understanding gentleman who sympathizes with the plight of his subordinates. Then he's revealed to be a cold Manipulative Bastard who uses Dissonant Serenity to hide his detatchment from humanity. Whether he truly did care for anyone is up for debate.
- Schneizel is an interesting case, because he does honestly seem to want world peace... but at the same time, this is a man who can talk about nuking millions of people without so much as blinking.
- Scneizel's psychology is so detached from the idea of empathy that some fans have suggested from how people talk about him that he willed himself to be a blank slate that responds to the surroundings rather than actually being able to grasp people having ambitions or an actual sense of self; he aims to take over his father's throne because his society's values indicate he should do so as the stronger of the two, not because he cares in the slightest about being Emperor. He doesn't even have the A God Am I reasoning behind nuking millions of people from orbit until Cornelia suggests it, and barely reacts when she is gunned down trying to stop him. Even when Lelouch finally defeats him, Schneizel appears to legitimately not care when he thinks he's about to die and this entire war was for nothing. Word of God confirms that he lacks ambition -- and that's exactly why he is so dangerous, since he honestly doesn't have any long-term interest in any of his undertakings.
- Schneizel is an interesting case, because he does honestly seem to want world peace... but at the same time, this is a man who can talk about nuking millions of people without so much as blinking.
- Black Cat: Series Big Bad Creed Diskenth combines this trope with No Social Skills for truly bad results. Interestingly, his Lack of Empathy is actually a crippling flaw for his career as a villain--he has no idea why his underlings constantly run away after he Bad Bosses a few of them, and his total inability to understand The Hero's emotions results in his own defeat.
- Black Mage Zeref of Fairy Tail actually needs Lack of Empathy to control his vast magical powers. If he develops compassion for other people, he suffers deadly Power Incontinence that drains the life out of everything around him. For centuries he placed himself in self-imposed exile on Tenrou Island to avoid hurting other people. Unfortunately, by the end of chapter 249, the machinations of Grimoire Heart cause him to forget compassion again and Master Hades becomes his latest victim. The formerly kindly Zeref then derides his victim as "trash" that should just fall into the abyss.
- Muruta Azrael and Lord Djibril of Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny. They're a pair of Fantastic Racists with a Final Solution for the Coordinator problem, and no ability to empathise with anyone else. They subscribe to a We Have Reserves style of fighting, firmly believe There Is No Kill Like Overkill, and have no qualms about using Weapons of Mass Destruction in the pursuit of petty, personal vendettas. Azrael sees his men as equipment, and regards other Naturals as expendable, Djibril orders the Destroy to kill half of Eurasia because their governments threaten to rebel...needless to say, not a lot of empathy going on there.
- Their Tykebombs, the pre-Extended and Extended are almost as bad, albeit for more sympathetic reasons. The Psycho Serum they're forced to take has left them all in varying states of Sanity Slippage, with no ability to empathise. Orga doesn't care who he shoots at, Clotho sees it all as some kind of game, Auel and especially Shani take a sadistic delight in slaughtering their enemies, Sting's just utterly cold-blooded, and Stella? The most sympathetic of the group? She doesn't even see people as people. They're all "Scary Things', and need to die because of it.
- Most of the villains in Zeta Gundam. Bask Om, Jamitov Hymem, and especially Yazan Gable wouldn't know empathy if it snuck up and bit them in the ass. Congratulations on making Jerid Messa and Paptimus Scirocco look like the reasonable ones, Jerkasses!
- From the original Mobile Suit Gundam: Char Aznable has many, many, talents. The ability to see other people as anything other than tools is not among them, although there are one or two people (Lalah Sune, his sister Artesia) whom he seems to care about. Gihren Zabi plays this trope very straight, killing his father so that he can usurp his position, turning his little brother's funeral into a political rally, and never showing an ounce of regard for anyone who isn't himself.
- Gozaburo Kaiba, The Spirit of the Millenium Ring, and Dark Marik--who's little more than the human equivalent of a rabid dog--epitomise Lack of Empathy in the Yu-Gi-Oh! verse.
- King Joseph of Gallia. In fact, much of his actions are a literally insane attempt to to instigate a feeling of remorse. His list of evil deeds include: killing his brother to usurp his throne, attempting to poison his niece Tabitha with an insanity-causing potion (her mother took it instead), forcing said niece to serve him as his agent, forcing Tabitha to betray her friends and sentencing her death when she failed, and finally launching an unprovoked assault on the country of Romalia with the intention of annihilating the capital city. Each of his deeds grew progressively worse, hoping that by increasing the monstrousness of his deeds he would finally feel an inkling of remorse. Whether he finally understood empathy when his familiar, who was in love with him, chose to die with him is ambiguous.
- Desil Galette of Gundam AGE doesn't give a damn about anyone who isn't himself. He views the entire war as one big game, and the soldiers he kills as toys to be thrown away. This attitude is chilling enough in a child, but it persists well into his adulthood, and he eventually begins plotting against his own brother when the latter dares to upstage him.
- Griffith from Berserk upon becoming a Godhand. His very first action as Femto pretty much says it all, as he viciously raped his former commanding officer Casca in front of her love and his former comrade Guts just to spite and hurt him while smirking at him the entire time. The evidence just gets more damning after he is reincarnated into the physical world as a human, where he went to the Sword of Hills, a memorial to the Band of the Hawk whom he sold out during the Eclipse in order to become a Godhand just so he could find out if he could still feel anything about all that he did to his former friends and comrades. Turns out he doesn't. And says it with such a straight and rational face that it's scary.
- Arguably, the Huckebein of Nanoha Force tends to become this.
Fan Works Edit
- Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations Vol. 2 - Ex-Aid Era feat. Cross Ange: Sylux is a prime example when nihilism, antisocial behavior, Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, and omnicidal tendencies go off to a deep end, that would probably made Ridley, Mother Brain, Takeshi Asakura, Gremlin, and even Tenjuro Banno look like wussies. Sylux has zero compassion and doesn't feel guilty for all the heinous acts he has committed, and he's proud of it.
- A vast majority of Supervillains from DC and Marvel comics.
- Norman Osborn, a.k.a. The Green Goblin, is probably a notable case. This trait is highlighted in "The Green Goblin's Last Stand", Spider-Man's (original) showdown with his arch-nemesis, where Spider-Man destroys Osborn's prized glider. Gobby fights with renewed anger, vowing to make Spider-Man pay for this travesty, while pointedly brushing off the fact that he just murdered someone an hour ago.
- Everyone in Dilbert, except maybe Asok and Ratbert, who are portrayed as naïve. The most outstanding examples are Dogbert, Wally, the Pointy-Haired Boss and Catbert.
- Scott Adams has joked that he himself might be a sociopath.
- During the New Krypton storyline, there is a scene where two Kryptonians take a walk down the street, discussing Superman and his bizarre desire to protect these Puny Humans. A car crashes. The bystanders, recognizing them as Kryptonians, beg them to help. The duo don't even react to them and continue their talk, eventually flying away.
- The Indigo Tribe, a relatively new element in the Green Lantern mythos, represents the emotion of compassion. While on the side of the good guys, they're mysterious and kind of creepy. It's eventually revealed that the tribe is made up of those who lack compassion and need it forced on them.
- This is an enforced biological trait of the Brood race. All brood are screened for compassion at birth, and those who "fail" are killed. However with the recent mass extinction due to The Annihilation Wave this policy was dropped. It's also possible for Brood, such as No-Name, to learn compassion, but to gain it suddenly (such as by psychic projection), is such a shock that it is instantly fatal to the Brood in question.
Films -- Live Action Edit
- Jame (sic) Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs. A good example of this is the "It puts the lotion in the basket" scene; when his victim realizes there are human fingernails embedded in the walls of her cell from failed escape attempts, she starts screaming. He just starts screaming along in sort of a grotesque parody.
- Hannibal Lecter would also count if not for sequel decay.
- Another example, the Voight-Kampff machine in Blade Runner is a test of empathy used to separate replicants (Ridiculously Human Robots) from humans.
- Halloween's Michael Myers never displays any sort of emotion. This even goes so far as to make him seem impervious to his own pain.
- Freddy Krueger from Nightmare On Elm Street
- The late Heath Ledger's summation of his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight, a "psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy."
- Jack Nicholson's Joker in the 1989 Batman film also lacked any empathy. This is especially apparent in the climax when, after Batman revealed that The Joker murdered his parents, and thus was responsible for creating him, started to mock Batman's choice of words of explaining this fact, and even dares say "How childish can you get?!" when summing it up.
- Girl, Interrupted: Lisa is in the asylum for this reason. A great example, when Susanna finds Daisy's body, Susanna breaks down, starts crying and flies into a panic, while Lisa basically goes "Well this is annoying" and searches Daisy's pockets for cash to steal.
- Darth Sidious, aka Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine, in Star Wars.
- Angel Eyes of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In a movie filled with people who are empathy-impaired, he's unquestionably the worst, lacking all emotions and desires save perhaps, Greed.
- The vampire subspecies' in Peter Watt's Blindsight most disturbing personality trait is a complete lack of empathy. Because they needed to eat fellow humans to acquire necessary proteins, they would have never evolved if they felt bad about doing it. Every last one of them is a sociopath. If you're still in one piece around one of them, it's just because you are being more useful this way at the moment.
- A Clockwork Orange: Alex. He starts out being set up as a Complete Monster, but once he's arrested and has everything taken from him piece by piece, including his family and free will, he becomes a bit more sympathetic. However, this doesn't change the fact that everything Alex does is about Alex.
- Harry Potter
- Lord Voldemort.
- Pretty much all of Voldemort's Death Eaters. Particularly Bellatrix, who seems to be a sadist as well as mentally unbalanced in general.
- Vernon, Petunia Dursley, and Aunt Marge, aren't much better, either.
- Professor Umbridge.
- Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Just about his entire life.
- Discworld Elves are explicitly described as lacking empathy. They would break the universe if they thought it would make a pretty noise.
- Alisa, the Villain Protagonist of the first part of Day Watch not only lacks empathy toward others, but is pretty casual about doing things like causing her mother to miscarry in an attempt to repair her parents' marriage. While the philosophy of Dark Others (celebrating individualism/selfishness) explains some of her behavior, it's also true that Others in general no longer think of themselves as being like Muggles, and so she can't really care about them. What makes her character interesting is despite all of the loathsome things she does, the reader gets the impression that she actually does have normal human feelings, but they are deeply suppressed, not to mention that she is in her late teens, and her behavior is pretty much what you'd expect when someone immature and with an unhappy home life is given massive amounts of power.
- Mark from That Was Then This Is Now is compared several times to a lion--attractive, charismatic, and utterly incapable of caring about the people he hurts. This seems to be innate rather than environmental, and the narrator observes that it's unlikely he could ever be treated or convinced not to harm others, only put in jail for who and what he is.
- Battle Royale-Kazuo Kiriyama. See Anime & Manga example above, as Kazuo's lack of empathy in the original book is pretty much the same as in the manga.
- While several of the characters in And Then There Were None fit this to some extent, Anthony Marston is a particularly good example: he's The Hedonist, totally devoted to his own pleasures but unable to consider the wishes of others. Interestingly, the murderer generally kills from "least guilty to most", and while Marston committed a pretty terrible crime (running over and killing two children), he's actually killed first on the logic that he's totally amoral and has no comprehension of right and wrong.
- Keep in mind that the "least guilty to most" principle is based on who feels the most guilty, not who is the most guilty. Marston, for example, didn't feel guilty at all, which is why he was killed first. The reasoning behind this was that the ones who felt the most guilty would suffer the most while waiting for their turn to be murdered because deep down they knew they deserved it, while the ones who did not feel guilty wouldn't suffer because they didn't think they deserved to be punished like the others; since waitng wouldn't make them suffer more, there was no sense in making them wait.
- Dominil from Lonely Werewolf Girl
- From The Dresden Files, vampires have to a degree the ability to empathize with each other, but almost all lose the ability to empathize with humans- even the comparatively nice White Court see mortals as little more than walking snacks, and the other two Courts are if anything worse. Lack of empathy is also pretty much a requirement to join the Denarians, and if you do still have any after joining up, your brand-new Fallen Angel bond creature will fix that in no time...
- Caine from Gone, almost to a humorous extent, especially when contrasted with his love interest, who, although a bit of a Manipulative Bitch, has her limits. He's honestly puzzled as to why she wouldn't want to watch coyotes feeding on young children when there was no good reason not to stop them, and a bit annoyed that she objects to crashing a helicopter with a toddler inside. And in Book 4, he thinks that, rather than being upset that he used her for sex, lied to her, and dragged her into plans of world domination, she'll be happy to be his queen. Yeah . . .
- Drake is an even worse example, being so psychopathic that even Caine is nervous around him.
- Most if not all the antagonists in any Dean Koontz novel in addition to being complete monsters.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Miranda evinces a serious limited ability to empathize. Her siblings think their father used a spell on her to stifle it. Surprising moments of empathy appear, and shock her with the realization that her siblings might be right, and the spell is now breaking down. OTOH, at all times, she fully averted A Million Is a Statistic and is grieved and disappointed in herself when she is unable to prevent natural disasters and so the deaths of thousands.
- Richard Lopez and Blue Eyes of Ship Breaker have no empathy for anybody. Richard more or less profiles as a sociopath while Blue Eyes is an emotionless monster.
- Max Barry's Machine Man has Dr. Charles Neumann. He has virtually no empathy whatsoever at the start. This goes further as he starts replacing his body parts with Better Parts.
- Unlike their sympathetic counterparts in the Blade Runner movie, the replicants of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep are essentially sociopaths, right down to the lack of impulse control, inability to plan ahead, and yes, the jarring Lack of Empathy. The scene were Priss cuts a spider apart for no other reason than to see how it will reacts is chilling, as is the clear delight that Roy takes in the deaths of his own allies. He seems to get a sadistic kick out of delivering bad news.
- Seems to be a feature of immortals and cats in The Last Unicorn. In the case of unicorns at least it's not that they lack the capacity so much as they have a differing value system; as the unicorn states, both cruelty and kindness are concepts for mortals, that don't really apply to unicorns or their ilk (Schmendrick, cursed with immortality himself, reckons she's full of shit).
- Galbatorix in The Inheritance Cycle definitely lacked empathy. Ironically, the first time he ever experiences empathy in any way, it gets him killed.
- The narrator of spoof self-help book Oh, the Humanity definitely qualifies. The general impression is that he understands empathy in an abstract sense but has no ability to actually experience or apply it. Mind you, during his Hilariously Abusive Childhood he considered "empathy" to involve a bully trampling his science fair project and saying "That must suck for you, dorkhole", so at least it's kind of understandable that he has trouble with it.
"That reminds me, I've been meaning to call you and tell you how much you have to live for. I'm sorry, I've just been doing so much gardening as of late."
- Most of the villains in The Belgariad and The Malloreon, including Taur Urgas, Zandramas, Brill, and Ctuchik. Demons have a Lack of Empathy as a race trait, with both Nahaz and Mordja having nothing but contempt for one another, their fellow demons, and the entire human race.
- Mandos in The Silmarillion is a rare good example. As The Judge and the overlord of the realm of the dead(dead elves anyway)empathy would get in the way of his job.
Live Action TV Edit
- Oz has a few characters like this. There's Chris Keller though it seems that he acts this way in part because of his twisted affection for Beecher. Claire Howell, who has no qualms about physically assaulting/harassing men who refuse her lustful advances, practically rapes a few of the male inmates, and murders one by dropping a hairdryer into his bathtub.
- And of course, one must mention Schillinger and the Aryans.
- Also shown in an episode of My Name Is Earl, which seemed to express the Scientologist view points of the lead actor.
- In an episode of Thirty Rock, the cast became concerned that Jenna might be a sociopath, but at the end she expresses remorse and it's concluded that she's "only" an "extreme narcissist."
- Reese from Malcolm in the Middle needs to have empathy explained to him by his father after this exchange:
Hal: How do you think that made [a rival cook-off contestant] feel when you sabotaged her recipe?
Reese: I dunno... fat?
- At the end, he can't understand why anyone would want it, as it would just make them feel bad if they hurt people.
- However; this only seems to go into Comedic Sociopathy territory; he can show empathy, at least towards positive emotions.
- Reese also once broke Dewey's toy plane in front of him just so he could see Dewey's face when he does it, and gleefully confirms to Dewey when the latter angrily tells Reese that he's the worst brother ever that he is indeed the worst, apparently taking pride in it.
- Francis may have even less empathy than Reese. Aside from his usual delinquent behavior, he also admitted that he had frequently tortured Reese and Malcolm, locked them up in a closet, stole their toys, and even scarred Reese on the shoulder with a bayonet, apparently without regret, when he was supposed to be encouraging Dewey about being a good brother.
- At the end, he can't understand why anyone would want it, as it would just make them feel bad if they hurt people.
- Every single character on Seinfeld.
- Apollo on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. When Hercules confronts and defeats him after he attacks a village with fireballs, Hercules angrily goes, "You could have killed those people!" Apollo, "Who cares... besides you anyway."
- Dexter likes to think he's one of these, and keeps claiming as much in his narration. His actions, on the other hand, prove otherwise.
- Some of the killers in Criminal Minds, although a number of episodes have subverted it by having a killer who profiles as psychopathic, yet shows some evidence of caring about at least one other person. They even had one killer who once showed all this signs of fitting this trope, yet actually had a Heel Realization and tried to make up for what he'd done, which the show points out as being virtually unheard of.
- Another self-diagnosed (or so we assume) example is Sherlock, who goes as far as claiming that emotions like worry, guilt and sympathy hamper his ability to be useful, so he doesn't bother with them. At least until John gets wired up to a bomb,, whereupon Sherlock is as freaked out and worried as any normal person.
- Wholly contrasted when Moriarty finally shows up, and jests at Sherlock about their "game":
Sherlock: People have died.
Moriarty: That's what people do!
- Mycroft Holmes is another example. By series 2, Sherlock is at least considering that there might be something to this "empathy" thing, and asks Mycroft if he ever wonders if there's something wrong with the two of them. Mycroft just says that caring isn't an advantage.
- The Daleks, from Doctor Who.
- Aside from the Daleks already being omnicidal maniacs, there's a perfect example in the episode "Doomsday" where a scientist is willing to tell the Daleks everything they want to know and instead they just suck his brain dry of the information while turning his head into a pile of ash.
Rose: "You didn't need to kill him!"
Dalek: "NEITHER DID WE NEED HIM ALIVE."
- There's also a good example of a Dalek actually developing empathy and being utterly horrified at the feeling.
Rose: "You didn't kill me, you don't have to kill them!"
Dalek: "BUT WHY NOT? WHY ARE YOU ALIVE? MY FUNCTION IS TO KILL. WHAT AM I? WHAT AM I!!??"
- And later:
Dalek: "I CAN FEEL SO MANY IDEAS...SO MUCH DARKNESS...", "THIS IS NOT LIFE, THIS IS SICKNESS."
- Even after being at least partially reformed, River displays this in The Wedding of River Song. When the Doctor asks her if her suffering at killing him outweighs the suffering of all the people who'll die if she doesn't - i.e. everyone who exists, did exist, and ever will exist- she flatly replies, "Yes."
- Angelus from Buffy; the series makes it clear that once a human becomes a vampire, their sense of love and empathy is significantly dampened. Even Angelus and Darla, who spent years together slaughtering innocents, were more than willing to abandon each other whenever their lives were at stake. Some vampires manage to abvert this (Spike) but even then, it's twisted at best.
- A rather large portion of the cast from The Shield at one point or another, but most villains fit this trope (especially Armadillo Quintero.
- In season 6 of Supernatural Sam totally loses his empathy as a result of losing his soul. He'll still put himself at risk to help Dean, but he'll also risk his life if it's advantageous. Helping him is clearly either a habit or because he's aware that he should care and goes along with it. In one episode while Dean is being panicking while being attacked by (apparent) aliens, Sam casually asks him over the phone what's going on, then when he loses connection checks out a waitress, has a beer, and calmly goes to look for him.
- And when he can't seem to find him, he shrugs, gives up, and picks up a chick. He doesn't understand why Dean is upset to return and walk in on Sam having sex instead of looking for or worrying about him.
- C.C. Babcock on The Nanny, as demonstrated by this exchange:
Fran: Question: When they shot Bambi's mother, did you find that a sad moment?... At all?
C.C.: (almost gleefully) I'm sure she's mounted on a nice wall in a fine home somewhere.
- In the TNT miniseries Nuremberg, the psychiatrist Gustav Gilbert (played by Matt Craven), is tasked with talking with the defendants (including Hermann Goering) to try to figure out how they, seemingly civilized men, could commit the terrible deeds of the Nazi Party. Talking with the prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson (Alec Baldwin), he lays it out:
I told you once that I was searching for the nature of evil. I think I’ve come close to defining it: a lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants: a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow man. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.
- Several of the murderers of the day in Monk do commit heinous crimes, although few truly stand out as having lack of empathy.
- Evan Coker, the man who murdered a tow truck driver in order to retrieve something from his repossessed car, and also nearly caused Karen Stottlemeyer's death as a result, was shown in the ending while being arrested by the police as chuckling and smiling after Stottlemeyer almost went ballistic and beat him down due to the fact that his wife was almost killed by him.
- Lionel, Lex, and Zod all demonstrate degrees of this on Smallville, with Earth-2 Lionel and Clark Luthor doing them all one better, but the show's crowning example of Lack of Empathy would have to be Brainiac. Totally void of emotions, he manipulates every member of the Season 5 cast without batting an eye, and later attempts to destroy the world in Seasons 7 & 8 out of a more or less intellectual dislike for people. Post-reprogramming he gains emotions as Brainiac 5 and is quite horrified at his previous incarnation's actions.
- Frank and Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
- Dark Oracle: Blaze, Violet, and comic!Sage all fully subscribe to It's All About Me, and have no empathy for anyone but themselves. Omen starts out this way, but gets better. As Cally notes they're all "ink on paper" and as such, have no innate ability to care about others.
- The second season finale of House is House's own conscience confronting him on his Lack of Empathy to his patients, climaxing in a heartfelt "I'm sorry," to the man he has wronged.
- A common trait for Osirans in Promethean: The Created. As their humor is phlegm, which embodies logic and calm, they tend not to think in emotional terms. Strange Alchemies mentions how one Osiran encountered a dying homeless man whose last words were "Help me"; rather than assist him, the Promethean moved on, and spent a long time wondering why the man thought a stranger would aid him.
- No one should forget the Fae in ~Changeling: The Lost~. The fae's lack of empathy make them seem utterly alien to those they kidnap, enslave, and shape to their own twisted desires. The very few times a fae does develop real feelings for their unwilling playthings they actually lose most of their supernatural power and even memories of their previous existence.
- Orcus, lord of the undead, and Lolth, the Spider Queen in Dungeons and Dragons.
- The third edition sourcebook Lords of Madness" describes mind flayers as "cold" and "clinically detatched" and seems to imply that all the major abberation races described in the book simply never even consider (nor care about) how their victims feel.
- Mind flayers are this trope on steroids. They literally learn their emotions from specially enchanted crystals, not from each other. They don't learn how to feel based on others, they learn how to feel from rocks. Other creatures are basically no more than tools to them, and it's only their devotion to the elder brain that really allows them to have a society.
- The Fair Folk of Exalted. Due to the nature of the Wyld, where they can summon up and dismiss whole countries full of people with but a thought, many of them have difficulty grasping the idea that people in Creation are independent and sentient beings.
- The Yozis, too. Malfeas genuinely doesn't understand that people even have opinions, let alone that they might act on them, and it took quite a while for the Ebon Dragon to convince him that the Infernal Exalted would need a source of motivation other than Malfeas shouting at them and slapping them around when they failed. The Dragon himself is a sociopath whose sole ability to relate to others is based upon figuring out how best to a) get what he wants, b) ruin their lives or c) do both at once (usually c). Kimbery cares deeply about others, but this doesn't extend to e.g. not destroying their lives "for their own good", and as soon as they object or fail to live up to her arbitrarily high expectations she quite literally hates them to death. Adorjan is very generous, but this is performed through such charming things as murdering her victims' loved ones to teach them the folly of attachment, or simply killing her target horribly to give them the greatest gift - silence - with no concern for whether or not they actually want this enlightenment. The closest She Who Lives In Her Name gets to empathy is a kind of icy and emotionless pity, Cecelyne exists solely to enforce her Social Darwinist views on the universe, Isidoros is willing to not trample people...if going to trample some other people would be more fun, and Metagaos is far too hungry to care whether what he's eating can feel or not.
- This is what happens in games like Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020 if a character puts on too much cyberware. He or she gradually becomes more machine than human and consequently loses interest in human affairs, becomes cold and distant etc. Closely related to Cybernetics Eat Your Soul.
Video Games Edit
- When empathy is lacking because the targets are just characters in a game, expect it to lead straight into Video Game Cruelty Potential. The potential effects of this on empathy for real people is still a point of heated debate.
- Pick any Capcom villain.
- The Legend of Zelda's Ganon.
- Debatable in Wind Waker, where it is hinted that the reason why Ganondorf intended to invade Hyrule was for his race's survival and benefit.
- Somewhere on that path he strayed to The Dark Side, and The Dark Side Will Make You Forget. After all, he wound up making things even worse for his race. This is what happens when a guy embodying an ancient demon's death curse tries to help people.
- Debatable in Wind Waker, where it is hinted that the reason why Ganondorf intended to invade Hyrule was for his race's survival and benefit.
- Organization XIII of Kingdom Hearts. Perfectly willing to do horrible, horrible things to anyone and everyone (even each other) without so much as a hit of guilt if it means getting their hearts back. As Nobodies, they aren't supposed to be able to feel anything, which explains some of that. Even the most "emotional", Roxas and Axel, had no conception of the desires of one another, as Roxas ran out without thinking a bit of Axel, and Axel has no conception of why Roxas ran out, and just thinks of his own personal benefit from being with Roxas.
- In Roxas's case, it helps that he no longer trusts Axel or considers him a friend after realizing just how much Axel hid from him concerning Xion.
- In Prototype, the real Alex Mercer is actually described in-game as being a sociopath which kind of turns him into a Complete Monster. This made him very effective as a Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate.
- "I wasn't being paid to feel."
- Genevieve Aristide from First Encounter Assault Recon. Doesn't care that her actions would send the world even further into hell from what Harlan Wade did, she's got a job to protect. And it leads to her out-Complete Monster-ing the two actual people who could be considered monsters, which is incredibly difficult considering the people-melting, cannibalism, possessing, raping and other stuff they do.
- Blaz Blue Setting Material Collection reveals that the Nox Nyctores weapons remove "unnecessary" emotions from their users in combat to make them more efficient. Yukianesa removes Jin's compassion, which explains a lot.
- And Blaz Blue's Big Bad, Hazama/Terumi, is pretty much a living manifestation of this trope. Not only does he gleefully revel in his complete lack empathy, not only does he get his KICKS out of crossing the Moral Event Horizon; being hated by others NOURISHES him.
- Relius Clover exhibits this as well, but he doesn't revel in it like Terumi does. He instead sees everyone and everything as pawns to use or as guinea pigs to experiment on.
- Lt. Carter Blake really almost has no empathy for anyone and everyone. The only ones who he has empathy for is Captain Perry, Ash, Grace Mars, and Scott Shelby.
- Final Fantasy VII: Hojo, Hojo, Hojo, HOJO!!!!
- A majority of Final Fantasy villains lack any empathy, most notably Kefka. Probably one of the few villains in the series who actually could express Empathy was Sephiroth (pre-madness, at least).
- Street Fighter - BISON!!!! (flames suddenly spring up from nowhere)
- Johnny Gat of Saints Row doesn't just lack empathy, there's a good chance he shot it for looking at him funny. He demonstrates his ruthless nature at Aisha's funeral, brutally beating Ronin leader Shogo, and burying him alive. He seems to become even MORE ruthless after this point. Yeah.
- Jon Irenicus in Baldur's Gate II, apparently as a result of (roughly speaking) having no soul. Presumably Bodhi too, but she doesn't act that way as clearly. Irenicus has lost the ability to feel most emotions, at least positive ones, and is himself horrified at his condition. However, since he was already evil before and is now entirely devoted to vengeance, he doesn't mind being able to do absolutely horrible things without flinching, leaving him a particularly frightful example. His interactions with others can go something like this:
Irenicus (indifferently): "The pain will only be passing, you should survive the process."
Irenicus (with a slight hint of irritation): "Do you even realise your potential?"
- The main villains and psychopaths in Dead Rising and the sequel.
- In Jade Empire Master Li is incapable of viewing people as anything but tools.
- Even his own daughter, Dawn Star. When he learns of the connection, he simply doesn't care.
- Luca Blight, holy crap, Luca Blight. Your country's equivalent to the boy scounts brutally slaughtered the night they are to see their families? Regret not joining in on the massacre that you set up to practise your swordsmanship. Adorable and traumatized little girl that you recently orphaned wailing in grief and fear after you just ran her teenage guardian through? Shut the brat up for good for spoiling your "fun" by decapitating her of course! Your sister grieving over your father that you just poisoned to death? Mock her and remind her that she is a Child by Rape.
- Sektor from the Mortal Kombat series. And no, this isn't a case of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul -- he was like this even before he was turned into a cyborg.
- "Since when did people start expecting science to be humane?"
- Dimentio, the true Big Bad of Super Paper Mario. He clearly sees his boss's feelings for his lost love as a weakness to be exploited, and does the same with Nastasia's feelings for Bleck.
- In the Mass Effect 3 codex for Ardat-Yakshi (Asari with a neurological mutation that makes them Horny Devils), the syndrome is stated to cause the affected Asari to be hard-pressed or even outright incapable of feeling empathy, and even those who don't kill are said to drift constantly through abusive or manipulative relationships. This could admittedly just be propaganda, given the Asari are deeply ashamed of Ardat-Yakshi and imprison them all upon confirmation of their existence, killing those who resist... but then again, Ardat-Yakshi not only kill those they mate with by burning out their nervous systems and neural tissue, but increase their biotic powers by doing so, and it's such a pleasurable experience that they become addicted to doing so. Case in point, according to Liara, the Ardat-Yakshi Morinth was actually "only just hitting her stride" when it came to preying on others.
- However, Mass Effect 3 also shows that at least some of the Ardat-Yakshi who accept their forced seclusion can be perfectly moral individuals with strong emotional bonds, with some of them eventually being judged fit to re-enter society, and diary recordings suggest that a lot of them aren't any worse than normal teenagers would be if they were locked up in a monastery. However, it should be noted that the ones in the monastery are denied the addictive deadly sex that increases their power, so it's possible that all Ardat-Yakshi have the potential to become as evil as Morinth if they give in to it. How this differs from any normal person's capability to morally degenerate due to an addiction is never explained, and after the monastery mission it seems likely that Ardat-Yakshi in general are the victims of propaganda that is strengthened by the crimes of those who do become Serial Killers.
- Among the many murderers in the Ace Attorney series, Matt Engarde, Dahlia Hawthorne, and Quercus Alba probably demonstrate this trope the best. They all care for no one but themselves, and anyone else is just a tool to accomplish their goals.
Web Original Edit
- A frequent trait of webcomic characters, such as Black Hat Guy from Xkcd and Belkar from Order of the Stick.
- The Nostalgia Chick. Apart from a couple of Pet the Dog moments, she's not keen on showing that she cares.
Western Animation Edit
- Vlad Masters from Danny Phantom. He doesn't care if Maddie is already happily married with children, because he wants her to be his wife and her son Danny to be his son. He spends much of the show trying to accomplish this.
- Family Guy: Stewie and Peter Griffin. Lois may fall under this trope in the later seasons. Quagmire is sometimes accused of this, but outside of The Hedonist sleazebag situations, actually seems a lot more considerate even than Brian in later seasons, just less of a hypocrite about his bad side.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula is all about this trope.
- Slade from Teen Titans.
- Eric Cartman from South Park.
- Shows up in, of all places, The Land Before Time! Sierra from LBT VII: The Stone of Cold Fire shows some traits of this.
- A majority of the cast from The Ren and Stimpy Show with Ren being the most blatant example.
- Invader Zim.
- Kevin Levin in Ben 10... but not in Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, because he's stopped using his powers to absorb energy, which had made him violently insane in the first place.
- Vilgax was originally this in Ben Ten, then he became a sort of Noble Demon in Ben Ten: Alien Force, which was quickly revealed to be an act.
- Van Kleiss from Generator Rex. Is willing to kill EVO henchmen who displease him without a second thought, kidnap a little girl so he could force her EVO father to go on a rampage, and messes with Rex's emotions simply because he can.
- White Knight also counts. Despite dedicating himself to wiping the threat of EV Os from the earth, he's just as ruthless and uncaring as Van Kleiss. His disregard towards Rex as a mere weapon, willingness to sacrifice his own forces and millions of innocent people to stop one EVO (he even openly states that "Soldiers are replaceable" to the group of soldiers Rex rescued), and use of Dr. Holiday's mutated EVO sister as blackmail to keep her in providence are proof of this.
- But at least White Knight has some justification, unlike Van Kleiss. He's the only true human left on the planet, everyone else could mutate into a rampaging EVO at any moment, some of which cannot be cured and must be killed. In his position, he's got some justification for being unfeeling to most other people, he's litterally the only person on Earth who can be trusted to never mutate into an EVO.
- Eustace from Courage the Cowardly Dog. Throughout the series the only moment he ever showed true empathy was when he hallucinated Courage as a version of his younger self, and gave him his hat out of pity. It makes the audience wonder what worth his kind wife Muriel sees in him.
- He did have one other instance of empathy though, when Muriel was possessed by a haunted mattress. He excused it as wanting her to cook him dinner, but would he have dressed up in a witchdoctor outfit and done a stupid cheer if he didn't really care?
- Almost every Disney villain is like this, though the Queen from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame are probably the best examples.
- Even though he's justified by being Surrounded by Idiots, Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants himself is often shown to be indifferent in later episodes such as refusing to help a man who was handcuffed by Mr. Krabs for not paying. But Mr. Krabs tops the cake more than the Aloof Ted Baxter, as his greed takes over his empathy and even common sense.
- Moral Orel has both Clay and Bloberta, Clay who accidentally shot his son and not only refuse to take responsibility for it, he mocks Orel for crying in pain. Bloberta herself is just as bad, if not worse, as she had shown no concern for her son's well-being.
- Clay is pretty much a psychopath/sociopath - or maybe a narcissist. Bloberta, on the other hand, proves to have some capacity for empathy. In the last episode, when Clay says that the family is going to sing Christmas carols, Bloberta says that Orel should be involved in it too. Some might ask when she started caring about Orel. There was an episode that went into her childhood. Her mother would not let her sing with the rest of the family because they already had a soprano and they did not need another one. Fridge Brilliance sets in when you realize that Bloberta remembers the humiliation she suffered when it came to families singing songs and does not want to put Orel through that.
- Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes. Heloise on a lesser level, but at least she cares about Jimmy.
- The Joker was pretty much insane and kicked the dog on several occasions, but what really cemented him with this trope was during the infamous flashback in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, where Joker mocks Batman after learning his Secret Identity from torturing Robin enough to drive him insane while showing Batman that he filmed it all. When Batman manages to crash through a window and beats him to a pulp, Joker nonchalantly tells him, "If you don't like the movie... I've got slides!" When Batman threatens to "break [Joker] in two", Joker is unafraid, saying that if Batman really wanted to "have that kind of fun", he would have done it years ago.
- Captain Tunar in ThunderCats (2011) is obsessed with killing The Ramlak, a monster who destroyed his home, and has no regard for the lives of his crew, who he sees as a bunch of worthless weaklings. He strikes up a rapport with protagonist Lion-O, who also desires vengeance on a villain who destroyed his kingdom. But after seeing where Tunar's actions lead, Lion-O turns from his course.
- Discord, the Big Bad of the first two episodes of season 2. He feels absolutely no empathy for anyone and the only thing that matters to him in the entire world is his own amusement. Worse, he's a Reality Warper with a very twisted sense of humor.
- Roger from American Dad. The one time he tried to show empathy for others it nearly killed him -- empathy is toxic to his race.
- Bender from Futurama. Notable in that he is capable of love, but not empathy. For example, he loves Fry with all his heart, but in a completely narcissistic fashion, as he only cares about Fry being alive and present so that Bender can love him, not about Fry himself being happy. However, he does have a Heel Realization about this in "Jurassic Bark", when, after being jealous and utterly unsympathetic over Fry's feelings about his old dog Seymour (who Fry is trying to clone) all episode, he throws the corpse in a volcano to eliminate the competition. Fry's grief causes Bender to realize, in a stroke of revelation, that Fry's feelings for Seymour are just like Bender's feelings for Fry, and finally understands what empathy feels like.