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It sucks to be the new guy. You're alone, you don't know the rules of this place, you have no idea how to deal with group politics, and you're still trying to work out where on earth the bathroom is.
To make things worse, if this trope is in place, your very newbie-ness will earn you the ire of every other person in the group, making your first few days, weeks or even months on the job an absolute misery. It's not that you did anything wrong (although you might be led to believe otherwise), it's just that they don't know you, and that makes you the target of your new colleagues' every frustration.
It just doesn't seem fair. You've been assigned for a reason—you're talented, you're needed and you're qualified. Your new boss seems to have every confidence in you. Yet no-one in this so-called team will talk to you, leaving you to blunder around on your own only to scream at you when you inevitably mess things up. Several will be downright hostile (up to and including bullying or hazing), and even the upper levels of the management won't step in to fight your corner—even the boss who has so much faith in you is liable to treat this as a Secret Test of Character, and leave you to sink or swim on your own.
Don't worry too much. You can count on your Badass, Blithe Spirit, Idiot Hero or Pollyanna traits winning over your crew in time. You probably can't expect an actual, spoken apology from the people who made your life a lonely hell at the start of his career, though. You'll have to settle for a tacit one—for example, assigned the crappy job of cleaning the toilets for the seventh time that week, one of your crewmates actually turns up to help.
Various justifications for this trope may be given, which can affect the level of audience sympathy that the newbie's abusers get. If the newcomer is a replacement for someone the team feels can't or shouldn't be replaced, they tend to be much more sympthetic—after all, at least they're loyal, and Newbie can expect the same level of affection once they overcome their grief at the loss of their teammate. Still understandable, but less sympathetic, are instances where the newcomer isn't what the team was expecting (for example, they expected a courageous, aggressive person to lead them into battle and they get a soft-spoken, diplomat instead), or the team is very close knit and the addition of anyone else upsets the equilibrium. However, more Jerkass reasons may include sexism, Small Name, Big Ego behaviour, jealousy (particularly if the newcomer is a natural at whatever it is the team does), or general personal nastiness.
A Chilly Reception is a temporary state of affairs—if it persists, it becomes All of the Other Reindeer, where the same kind of bullying is a result of some difference between the protagonist and their peers. This can be a logical progression—for example, if during the "probation" period the newcomer says or does something that marks them out as a rebel or outcast, such as disagreeing with some fundamental belief that the others hold.
Certain character types, such as the Defrosting Ice Queen, the Tsundere, The Shepherd (the only person not picking on the rookie) and The Rival, will probably make themselves known during the Chilly Reception. As noted above, this is often a Secret Test of Character and may feature one or more Sink Or Swim Mentors
Anime and Manga
- In Kaleido Star, Sora gets this treatment from almost the entire cast because of a misunderstanding (if you're feeling forgiving) or because of the cast's nasty habit of jumping to conclusions (if you're not) — they assume she cheated her way in because of her unorthodox admission into the crew. Compounding the problem was the berating she got from Layla in front of the other prospective Stage members and the fact she joined slightly later than the other rookies, making her the odd man out. Classic Chilly Reception behaviour ensues, with Sora being lumbered with an unfair amount of the chores and hazed at every opportunity, even by her future True Companions, Mia and Anna.
- Gakuen Alice: Mikan's introduction to the academy is basically out-and-out bullying. The Alice children are pretty messed up anyway, with clique-ish and arrogant behaviour being considered the norm, so a newcomer was always going to have a hard time fitting in. Mikan makes things worse for herself by not being an Alice (at least, as far as she knows) and berating the other children for their better-than-thou attitude. Her Blithe Spirit wins her classmates over.
- In Kyo Kara Maoh, Yuri is not what Wolfram and Gwendal wanted in a Demon King; Chosen One or not, he doesn't have a clue about the Demon Kngdom and its politics. That changes pretty quickly, with Wolfram falling head over heels for him and Gwendal establishing himself as a Reasonable Authority Figure prone to Cuteness Overload.
- In the Sakura Wars OVA and television series, Sakura gets a chilly reception, particularly since she's a Country Mouse. At least Maria (the then-captain), gives her some credit despite the straight-talking, and gets Sakura on stage as soon as possible. See below for Video Game examples
- One Piece: Nico Robin. Only Luffy knew of her good nature, the others only knew her as a villain, and one that had been particularly cruel to their former True Companions Vivi. What follows is an incredible display by Robin where she manages to defrost all of them by playing off their personality quirks, except for Zoro, who remained cold until one heartwarming moment at Skypiea.
- Eureka Seven: In the beginning, all the members of Gekkostate besides Eureka, treat Renton with apathy and disrespect,constantly yelling at him, playing cruel pranks on him, blaming him for every little mishap, beating him down(in Holland's case,literally) and genreally treating him as the ships Butt Monkey until he Takes a Level In Badass. Keep in mind Renton is fourteen, and almost everyone else on the ship is an adult.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this happens to Homura, in the first timeline, in contrast to her being very popular in the main timeline. She isn't particularly good at sports due to being hospitalizeed for a long time, and is also behind on her studies, so no one except Madoka likes her.
- Top Ten: Joe Pi initially gets a cold response from some of the other cops, mostly because he's taking the place of a colleague who was killed in the line of duty. He quickly proves himself both on the streets and with his new partner's family.
- Kung Fu Panda: As Po admits, his first few days after being declared as the Dragon Warrior were awful with all his heroes (except for Master Oogway) making it clear they hated him and wanted him gone. Of course, he starts impressing most of the Five with his tireless tenacity and good cooking and humor, Shifu turned around seeing how phenomenally quickly he is learning martial arts and finally Tigress changed her mind after he defeated Tai Lung.
- In the Circle of Magic books, the four protagonists are all given a hard time when they arrive at Winding Circle, resulting in their removal to Discipline Cottage.
- Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce. Kel hasn't even set foot in the castle for her Page training before she's being hazed, having been put on probation by her training master. Needless to say, the boys she trains with don't exactly improve matters. She makes friends and triumphs regardless
- Menolly, a musician in the Dragonriders of Pern series, is accepted by almost everybody in Harper Hall, but the ones who object to her presence make her life hell. A rare example of the protagonist not winning everyone over—instead, she settles for getting her own back.
Live Action TV
- NYPD Blue:
- When Simone replaced Kelly, Sipowitz gave him an extremely cold reception. It was basically:
Simone: Hi, I'm Detective Simone.
- This was purposeful on the producers' part, because they felt that if Sipowitz gave Simone an extreme cold shoulder, and rejected him without giving him any chance, viewers would be more likely to see that and not do it themselves.
- Power Rangers: Rears its ugly head a couple times in response to the Rookie Red Ranger. Specifically, Taylor isn't fond of Cole in Power Rangers Wild Force and Sky gives Jack the cold shoulder in Power Rangers SPD. In both cases, it's less of a problem that a new guy's coming in and more that they're automatically promoted to leader; Taylor and Sky are by-the-book types with the most experience in their teams, and they didn't like suddenly having to take orders from rookies who don't particularly care for the rules.
- Though done with a much smaller team, this trope is everywhere on The X-Files. In the pilot, Mulder is none too thrilled to be having a new partner and is snarky. Moreso than usual. Until about mid-season one, he's fluctuates from being standoff-ish and friendly towards Scully.
Mulder (responding to Scully's knock on the door): Nobody down here but the FBI's Most Unwanted.
- Of course, once he and Scully become friends as well as partners, he's not too fond of his superiors assigning even temporary partners in her absence.
- Scully acts in a similar way to the addition of Agent Doggett in season 8, though to be honest, he could have started off the partnership on a better foot. He lies about having known Mulder and tells Scully that Mulder never really trusted her, which led to this:
Scully (flipping around Doggett's ID card): John Doggett. You might have introduced yourself.
- The addition of Monica Reyes, ironically, didn't garner much attention from anyone, positive or negative. This could have been partially because Scully and Mulder were no longer really on the X-Files, and Monica and Doggett had worked together before.
- This happens to varying degrees in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. How chilly the reception seems to be in direct proportion to how popular the preceeding character was and how their exit was handled. Jonas Quinn was never really well-received by O'Neill or the audience. Ronon Dex was loved as soon as he showed up in Atlantis. Oddly enough, even though Richard Woolsey was designed to be a shifty character, everyone got over the chilly reception pretty quick and accepted him as expedition leader.
- In Sakura Wars: So Long My Love, the main (male) character, Shinjiro Taiga, gets this from the veteran members of the Star force. They were expecting the Commander of the Flower Division, not his rookie nephew with qualifications but no experience. Cheiron/Sagitta is loudly hostile, Subaru has no time for an ineffective rookie, and seniors Ratchet and Sunnyside don't really know what to do with him (well, Ratchet doesn't — Sunnyside might have been expecting this). This is adding insult to injury for Shinjiro: he thought he was joining the Japanese Flower Division force, was punted across to the USA instead, and was met by hostility and hazing when he got there. Of course, it's largely a Dating Sim, so you can guess how it all pans out.
- In Halo: Reach, you're informed at the beginning that you're being brought in to replace a well liked member of the team who the others would have preferred to honour by leaving the spot empty. This doesn't have much of an effect on gameplay, but in a couple of cutscenes some characters are dismissive or just ignore you. Except Jorge. By the end of the game this is of course entirely gone.
- Newbies on forums. In all but the friendliest or best shepherded forums, they get shouted down in discussions, mocked for their ignorance of forum rules (be they major or minor), and are wide open to sympathy-less measures by zealous/overbearing/bad tempered moderators. Kinder moderators and forum members make allowances for newcomers...but there's a different forum persona who considers them "prey." Some newbies earn this ire from fellow forum goers—others are just unlucky.
- Needless to say, Truth in Television. From the new kid at school, to the new signing for a football team, we've all seen it: many human beings will be a complete Jerkass to people they don't know. In some institutions, hazing or bullying a newcomer is standard practice and even the people in charge of making sure no-one gets hurt will be loath to step in.