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But is he happy?

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

"Kings do not have friends, only subjects and enemies."
—Proverb of long-lived miserable kings

A character is driven to become the best there is—the richest man in town, the best martial artist in the world, the emperor of the galaxy...

...and succeeds. Along the way, the character winds up betraying everyone and everything he ever valued, and has nothing left in life but his obsession. He will inevitably wind up bitter and alone, pondering everything he's lost—just before losing the thing he obsessed over too. ("If only I'd never left the family farm/talked to that man/become a model/signed that contract/etc.")

This is often a form of reversed Wish Fulfillment for the viewer, as the average person wants to be able to think that the things they don't have (such as an abnormal amount of money, power, skill or beauty) won't lead to happiness, conveniently forgetting how, in real life, there are a bunch of poor, enslaved, stupid, ugly people that are unhappy too.

A variant is for a character to achieve immortality, i.e Who Wants to Live Forever?, and/or ultimate power i.e God for a Day, and become suicidally bored over how meaningless everything is when it's so easy.

Dying Alone is often threatened, though if they learn An Aesop it may be averted.

Often ends in a form of Karmic Twist Ending.

The natural conclusion of Ambition Is Evil and Being Evil Sucks. May overlap with Pyrrhic Villainy and/or Everything but the Girl. Contrast Celebrity Is Overrated and In with the In Crowd. Characters who are Married to the Job are especially at risk of having this happen to them. If the character merely gets a whole load of mental problems from trying too hard, he'll become a Broken Ace.

May overlap with Et Tu, Brute?, Victory Is Boring, I Just Want to Have Friends, God for a Day and Wanting Is Better Than Having.

Examples of Lonely at the Top include:

Anime & Manga

  • In episode 22 of Keroro Gunsou, a missive from headquarters results in Private Tamama (temporarily) becoming the new leader of the squad. He promptly goes mad with power, and ends up throwing the Hinatas, Moa, and all his squadmates in the brig. While the others manage to make themselves comfortable (thanks to a few secret modifications Kururu made), Tamama ends up bitter and alone.
  • The Emperor in Photon has been the sole and absolute ruler of the galaxy for a few thousand years, and it became so boring that he allowed one of his subordinates to hatch a plan to achieve ultimate power and depose him, just so he'd have someone powerful to fight at the end.
  • Coyote Starrk from the Espada in Bleach. All of the ten Espada represent an aspect of death; his is 'Loneliness' because his enormous powers tended to drain the life out of any other Hollows who came near him and resulted in all of them avoiding him like the plague. He eventually split his soul into two seperate beings just to have someone he could hang out with: the other part became his Fracción, Lilynette Gingerback.
    • In Chapter 422, Ichigo claims that Aizen was Lonely At the Top all along. When he and Aizen fought, the only thing he could sense from Aizen's zanpakatou was "solitude". He believes that the Hogyouku, rather than rejecting Aizen as a master, had finally granted Aizen's true wish: to be a "normal" Shinigami. Why it felt the way to do this was to give him more and more power until the very last second when it takes that power back is anyone's guess. The claim also tends to lose some impact given his previous and subsequent arrogance, and the fact that all of his actions were in the interest of becoming god.
  • Subverted in Death Note, where Light is shown to betray anyone and everyone in order to get to the top and become the god of the new world. One would expect that in the end, everyone is shown realizing this and turning against him - however, it is shown that even years after his death, there are still many worshipers who greatly mourn his death. (But that doesn't do him much good now does it?)
  • Almost happens in Code Geass, when Lelouch loses his sister, his friends, and the Black Knights, but then subverted when he rekindles his friendship with Suzaku and C.C. regains her memories.
  • Hotohori from Fushigi Yuugi. And he felt like a bird in a golden cage.
  • Oh, isn't it the lonely England!
    • Prussia's rant about being happy by himself during the Christmas Special is often interpreted as this.
  • Izaya from Durarara!!. Unsurprisingly, being a gigantic, manipulative asshole tends not to win over a lot of friends.

Namie: Would you please refrain from using me to comfort your ego just because everybody in the chatroom but you has friends to eat hotpot with?

  • Legend of Galactic Heroes: When Reinhard finally becomes the Emperor, neither his best friend Kircheis or his big sister Annerose are there to witness it.
    • He still has Hilda at his side, of course, having even worse social skills than Yang, the clod does not see it
      • Arguably subverted. He eventually gets a clue and marries Hilda. It's even theorized in-universe that his early death less than a year after taking over the known universe was either because of this trope hitting him fatally hard, or to avoid it (there being nothing else to conquer).
  • Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt: Surprisingly enough, Garterbelt. In his past life as a gangster, he eventually became strong enough to become the mayor of his city, but he quickly grew bored of it. So bored that, when a mob came to kill him, he didn't resist.
  • Accelerator in A Certain Magical Index is one of these types. He's the number one esper in Academy City (and the world) and almost literally nobody can touch him unless he consciously lets them, which caused many assassination attempts and experiments on him, turning him into a rather lonely sadist.
  • A One Piece omake did this when it imagined the Straw Hats as mobsters. They each end up killing each other (well Nami dies of happiness from seeing so much gold) till only Luffy is left. He gloats that all the meat is now his. But soon realizes he lonely without no one to share it with.

Comic Books

  • In the comic Timespirits, a space pirate has the Curse of Success - she succeeds at everything she tries, gets everything she wants. And she gladly gets the curse removed because, as she puts it, "I am so incredibly bored!"
  • Ozymandias in Watchmen, hidden under dense layers of ego and posing for the eyes of history. The reveal is his insecure last exchange with Dr Manhattan.
  • The title character in Cerebus. He is told to his face, by someone in a position to know (albeit someone later revealed to also be far from objective), that he will "die alone, unmourned and unloved" about a third of the way through.
  • Scrooge McDuck near the end of Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, when he is an embittered old man estranged from his family.
  • Marvel's Thanos attempts to impress Lady Death by collecting the six Infinity Gems, and with them becoming her equal so she will finally speak to him. However, after he succeeds she still remains silent, one of her servants explaining that by becoming all-powerful he is now her superior.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: Brainiac 5 is the most intelligent person in history. His childhood was spent in the care of robots because his society rejected him as an aberration, and many of his teammates are hostile because he isn't sociable or nice. Cause you learn to be sociable and nice when you have no contact with living beings and are punished for displays of emotion for the first twelve years of your life.

Fan Works


  • The film Citizen Kane is the archetypal example.
  • The film Megamind has Megamind winning over his nemesis falling under this trope.
  • The film Scarface culminates with the title character, Tony Montana, alone after killing or alienating everyone who helped him get to the top of Miami's drug trade (those who didn't get killed by Sosa, that is) through his increasing paranoia brought on by his addiction to his own product. He is killed at the end of the movie, but not before making a balls-out final stand and blowing away a good number of Sosa's assassins in the process.
  • Michael Corleone in The Godfather, with the added twist that, initially at least, he didn't even want to be the head of the 'family business'
  • Iron Man: Initially, Tony Stark. He is the richest, smartest, most handsome, and most popular man in the world, who can essentially order beautiful women for...dinner. However, he has absolutely no family to speak of, and even Pepper doesn't really count as a friend so much as an insanely loyal employee, and when he admits this to Yinsen, he sadly remarks that Stark is "a man who has everything and nothing."
  • The Biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers posits that Sellers' life came down to this; by the end he's sadly watching home movies of him with his family and friends—all either dead or distant—and mourning all he's lost, and the only art he accomplishes in his final years that means anything to him is getting the film adaptation of Being There made. (Sellers was in fact an intensely nostalgic man, but he wasn't that lonely at the end of it all.)
  • One of the points of the Stop Motion short film MORE. And it is even more depressing than the Touhou example below.
  • A short animation called Man In The Frame has a plot centering around it.
  • George Simmons in Funny People is a famous and successful comedian internationally recognized through his movies, but he comes to realize that he's gradually pushed away everyone who ever cared about him, his movies are Lowest Common Denominator rubbish, and he's doomed to die a lonely and empty failure if he doesn't change his ways. Played with, however, in that it's not just achieving fame that is responsible for him being this way, but deep-seated emotional problems and self-loathing which stems back to way before he became successful.
    • Played with in that it's implied that their emotional problems are part of what makes the characters good comedians, at least initially. Meaning that to get the top you have to be somehow lonely in the first place.
  • This is the point of the classic British film Room At The Top.
  • Nicolas Cage's character in The Family Man, although he doesn't realize it until he's shown what might have been had he not embarked on his high-powered Wall Street career.
  • Daniel Day Lewis's character at the end of There Will Be Blood. But you get the sense that he likes it this way.
  • Tracy Flick in Election. Dave even tells her when the two are dating.
  • Team America: World Police: Kim Jong-Il has a Villainous Lament song about this, though he believes he'll solve the problem with even more power.
  • Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network created Facebook and becomes a billionaire but loses his friend, his mentor and everyone else who was important to him.
  • Limitless: Trying to get rich under NZT’s influence, Eddie manages to alienate Lindy, the only person who truly cares about him, leaving him with the Corrupt Corporate Executive and The Mafiya.
    • Eddie’s ex-wife also dumped him while she was under the NZT’s influence. Eddie would have not contacted her if not for his own problems with NZT.
  • Star Command: Shane Ridnaur explains this to a cadet. The commanding officer is alone and must appear invincible to encourage confidence among the crew. Also titled “In the Fold”. [1]


  • Dark Tower: Roland reaches the Dark Tower and climbs to the top, saving everything in existence from extinction along the way--but Roland himself is condemned to repeat his life over and over for the cruelties he committed in the name of this goal. It's implied that he only has to do it till he gets it right.
  • Taltos: In the "bored with power" variant, sorceress Sethra Lavode in Steven Brust's novels creates an alternate persona, Kiera the Thief, who doesn't use her powers initially as a means of getting information, then continues the act because of the excitement of actually facing challenging situations again.
  • Paul Atreides in Dune Messiah. Even moreso his son Leto II. His grand design relied on purposely alienating himself from humanity, and turning into an ageless giant worm was a good start. After his sister who he shared an empathic bond with died, there was no one left to understand him. The ones who came close could only pity him.
  • In Atlas Shrugged the gifted scientist Dr. Robert Stadler states explicitly that is very lonely on the highest branches of the tree of intellect and is delighted to find “a work of genius that I didn’t create” (Galt’s motor). Life is pretty lonely for the Fiction500 characters, though it’s implied that only the “intellectuals”, leftist politicians, businessman who can’t operate in a free market and other powerful but talentless people envy them and wish to destroy them, whereas members of the public are not driven by envy and are given hope in an apparently hopeless situation by seeing great accomplishments from productive people.
  • The Fountainhead: Gail Wynand's entire life. Ayn Rand set out to do this quite deliberately. Her notes describe him as "a man who could have been", and he himself echoes that sentiment at the end.
  • One of William Gibson's short stories concerns a player of air combat simulations who's getting old but retains both his skill and a natural charm that allows him to befriend everyone at the local bar. A younger player meets a girl who Does Not Like Men and has a stash of upper-type drugs, and he threatens to rape her so as to intimidate her into handing over said drugs, which he figures will temporarily improve his skill so he can beat the older player. He does—but everyone's certain he cheated, and the older player continues to be the toast of the town while the younger one becomes a social outcast.
  • Older Than Feudalism: One king of Israel in The Bible, most likely Solomon, lamented in the book of Ecclesiastes over all the vanity in his life.
  • A Christmas Carol: Ebeneezer Scrooge. He is easily the wealthiest man in London, but is bitter, uncaring, estranged from what family he has left (his sister's son). He is disliked by the rest of town, having lost his sister, fiance', and best friend along the road to riches.
  • The Great Gatsby in another archetypal example.
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem "Richard Cory", and the song of the same title by Simon and Garfunkel.
  • Dragonlance: Legends: Of all the Very Bad Things in the trilogy, perhaps the most horrifying is Astinus's description of how absolutely lonely Raistlin will be when he finally achieves his evil ambitions.
  • The title character in Jack London's semi-autobiographical novel Martin Eden.
  • Harry Potter: Voldemort. He has no family having murdered his own father and his grandparents. Most people are downright terrified of him, including a lot of his followers. Even though Bellatrix is loyal and attracted to him, he can never love.
  • Judge Dee: When it becomes obvious that Dee is on the fast-track to promotion to Lord Chief Justice of all China, he begins to remember what his father, himself as prominent official, told him in his youth: "It's very lonely, at the top."
  • C. S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew: Jadis sums the trope up pretty well, but she actually means it as a sort of self-praise: Jadis: "Ours is a high and lonely destiny." Diggory notes that his uncle said the same thing, but it sounds a lot better when Jadis says it because she's a seven-foot-tall, dazzlingly beautiful sorceress (who, not coincidentally, nuked her entire world so she could be its sole queen.)
  • The Emperor in Shadows of the Apt
  • In Freedom, Loki/Gragg realises this of himself. He's the highest-level Darknet operative, but nobody thinks well of him.
  • In Warrior Cats, Mapleshade knows that Crookedstar will become clan leader, so she aims to get his entire family killed and make his this. Her plan fails when Crookedstar explains that once his time is over, everyone he cares about will be waiting for him in the afterlife.

Live-Action TV

  • Londo Mollari's character arc on Babylon 5.
  • Many, many episodes of The Twilight Zone. "The Mirror" is a famous example. Also "Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville", where this trope is one of the protagonist's motives for accepting the Deal with the Devil.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, "True Q," uses the "boredom of power" version.
    • This trope can also apply to the Borg Queen and her chasing after Picard. Yes, his main purpose was to facilitate the assimilation of Humanity, but judging by First Contact, A certain evil queen was getting lonely.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Lampshaded in the Flash Gordon style holoprogram The Adventures of Captain Proton! with Mad Scientist Doctor Chaotica pining after fellow Big Bad Queen Arachnia.

Chaotics: Oh, Arachnia, my love, my life! How well you understand our plight. If it weren't beneath my dignity, I... I would weep! How I've longed for someone who would understand!
Arachnia: We have a saying on Arachnia. It's lonely at the top.

  • Most Anvilicious example ever: the first season of Degrassi Junior High. Stephanie becomes the most popular girl in school by lying and exploiting her friends—until the season finale, when her victims finally turn the tables on her. Cue flashbacks of every despicable thing she did. Then we see Stephanie crying in the bathroom, and she moans, "I only wanted them to like me!"
  • A season of Angel ends with Cordelia rising to a higher plane of existence and becoming, essentially, a goddess. The next season's opening episode shows her in all her god-like glory whining, "God, I'm so bored!" For a good chunk of the next season, she watches her earthly friends assume she's in a better place while trying helplessly to get them to bring her back.
  • In the Doctor Who story Invasion of Time, it looks like the Doctor has done this, abandoning his companion to become Lord President of Gallifrey, and then aiding an alien invasion of his home planet. It all turns out to be a heroic plan.
    • Kazran Sardick in A Christmas Carol which, obviously, draws inspiration from the Charles Dickens story.
  • Sidney Teal, the eponymous billionaire mugger in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger", His chauffeur says that despite having a huge house, incredible riches, and a beautiful wife, Teal was the loneliest guy in the world. Eventually it's revealed that the reason he was performed the mugging that got him shot dead was that he was trying to relive the one moment in his life when he truly felt cool; in college, his friend pretended to mug him and then be scared off so that Teal could impress a date. The same friend went on to have an affair with Teal's wife and to get him out of the way, asked him to stage a fake mugging to impress a girl as an excuse to shoot him.
  • During an episode of Numb3rs, Charlie and Larry went to a funeral of one of Larry's colleagues. Larry laments how the man was brilliant and a genius and yet, there was no one else at the funeral except for the two of them.
  • ER: The funeral of Doctor Romano, is attended solely by Dr Corday. Romano was a Jerkass to many of his colleagues and patients.


  • This is the theme of Stars and the Moon, signature song of Jason Robert Brown.
  • The basic idea of Kanye West's "808s and Heartbreak" album, especially the track "Welcome to Heartbreak." "My friend showed me pictures of his kids / and all I could show him was pictures of my cribs / he said his daughter got a brand new report card / and all I got was a brand new sports car"
    • Kanye's newest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, has this in spades.
  • A theme in many of Eminem's songs but particularly, 'Say Goodbye Hollywood,' which contains the lyrics: "I sold my soul to the devil, I'll never get it back, if I could go back I never woulda rapped" and "'Cause all I wanted was to give Hailie the life I never had, instead I forced us to live alienated.'
  • The very first sentence of Gang Starr's Moment of Truth. "They say it's lonely at the top in whatever you do."
  • It Can Get Lonely In My Mansion by Lemon Demon.
  • To The End by My Chemical Romance. The first verse is (if you're reading the lyrics literally) about a guy who lives alone in a giant mansion and kills people. Including everyone who attends his wedding. And later, his wife. Then again, if you're killing everyone in your neighborhood...
  • Doomsday Clock by Smashing Pumpkins.
  • Randy Newman - Lonely at the Top
  • The narrator of Jamey Johnson's Lonely at the Top (co-written by the late Keith Whitley) is a rising Country Music star who begins to complain about the pressure and fame brought upon by his newfound success. A fellow bar patron offers this wry remark: "it might be Lonely At the Top, but it's a bitch at the bottom."
  • Simple Plan's Loser of the Year.
  • King Of Insects by Assemblage 23 is about this, with a hint of Mayor of a Ghost Town.
  • Pain of Salvation's BE album features a character known as "Mr. Money", who actually quotes the trope. "They say it's lonely at the top, and I'm as lonely as can be!"


  • Macbeth: Macbeth realizes that all the power he has gained is meaningless for the evil he has had to do to attain it. His former comrades are revolting against him, his wife is dead, and the events that foretell his death are coming to pass; he concludes that Life "is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." On the very day of his coronation, he laments that by fulfilling the witches' prophecy, he's also ensured that Banquo's descendants, not his, would be the future kings of Scotland. "I'm the one who orchestrated Duncan's murder, and he gets to have the dynasty! Stupid worthless crown!" Even worse, he knew this would happen because the witches told him. Needless to say, it was all downhill from there.
  • An Irish play called The Field ends with an old man getting exactly what he wants, the titular field. However, he gets it at the expense of both of his sons, his wife, and any and all respect he had from local townspeople. And, because he wanted the land for the purpose of leaving a legacy to his family, when he does get the field, it's worthless.

Tabletop Games

  • Endemic to Ravenloft, the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Gothic Horror; since the Dark Powers seem to enjoy giving bad people new and interesting ways to live an eternity of suck, this is not particularly surprising. To give some examples from its ample supply of Darklords:
    • Count Strahd: murdered his brother in order to ensure his own immortality, thereby making his brother's betrothed - who Strahd was in love with - hurl herself over the walls of Strahd's castle.
    • Azalin Rex: killed his only son for being "unworthy" (read: still possessing a conscience), and would dearly love to bring him back but his curse means he can't learn new magic, which would be required.
    • Jacqueline Renier, who is perhaps the queen of this trope. Intensely monophobic, she has to spend her time with her vicious family, all of whom hate her, and will transform into a wererat in the company of anyone she actually cares for.
    • In summary: it really really sucks to be a Darklord.
  • The God-Emperor of Warhammer 40,000. Let's face it. His obesession being the survival of mankind, he has really lost everything, his sons, the atheism he tried to build up in his Imperium, his self-respect, many other things, now spending eternity living in mind-wracking pain, being kept alive by the Golden Throne he sits on, being forced to watch how everything he built has rotten and become a shadow of its former self... he doesn't have anything left.

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy Tactics ends with Delita gaining the crown of Ivalice, but his excessive use of manipulation and deceit to get there alienates his Queen so much that she concludes she was only part of his machinations too, and attempts to kill him. It fails, and he kills her in retaliation. The tragedy- or Delita's Karmic Backlash- is increased tenfold if you're in the camp that believes Delita truly did love Ovelia.
    • This is ambigous in the playstation version, but almost certainly true in the PSP version, unless Delitia is one hell of a good liar.
  • BioShock (series): Andrew Ryan severely buggered up his entire ideology in his desperate attempt to maintain it.
  • Mortal Kombat Armageddon: The second variation happens with Shao Kahn at his end. After he finally realizes his long-held ambition of taking over all of the known Realms, he grows insane out of boredom, as there is nothing left for him to conquer.
  • Disgaea 3: An accidental version of this trope shows up in the Almaz ending. Wannabe-hero Almaz defeats Mao and as a reward Mao's father makes Almaz the new overlord. As a result all his friends (even the princess that Almaz loves) leave him, and the game ends with the new overlord all alone.
  • Takahisa Kandori of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona accomplishes his goal of becoming a god. By the time you finally encounter him, though, he's in the middle of a Villainous BSOD and has to be needled into fighting you.
  • At one point in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, Prince Lacroix gives a tiresome speech on how he's alone in his position as ruler of Los Angeles and how leadership is so problematic because every other vampire in the city wants him out of the way. He then promptly goes back to treating you like shit.
  • The second half of Conkers Bad Fur Day, Rare's raunchy Take That to Nintendo's carefully cultivated family-friendly image, becomes increasingly depressing and culminates in Conker becoming king. He's surrounded by people he hates, and he wants nothing more than to go home and have a beer with his girlfriend - but she's dead, because he forgot to bring her back to life when he had the chance. Conker sitting on the throne depressed is how the game opens.
  • This Touhou fancomic of Chen is a clear example of this trope. *sniff*.
  • Played unusually straight in The World Ends With You in the stinger ending, where Joshua, The Composer, is standing on top of Ten-Four with Hanekoma. The latter tells him he looks lonely, and Joshua is basically told that he can't join the friends he made over the past month because it's not his world. Cue the White-Haired Pretty Boy flying away before Hanekoma can continue. Talk about a downer ending.
    • Or maybe he can't join them due to all that time spent murdering and torturing them, while trying to wipe out the whole city. One of those.
  • Jastor Gallywix defies this in his official short story, Trade Secrets of a Trade Prince. Having alienated the only person he had fallen in love with, and proving that he is scum even by goblin standards, he is still stating that he would not have it any other way.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia MK II has an example of this in the Conquest Ending. Nepgear has killed all the other goddesses, including her sister, to power the Sword of Plot Advancement to kill the evil deity, Arfoire. Ultimately, this leads to her accomplishing what every comicbook supervillain dreams of: the world is united under her rule, but all those of her friends who are still alive return to the places they call home, leaving her to rule alone, and she is willing to use "any means necessary" to ensure peace and prosperity.

Nepgear: "This is the dark path that I've chosen to walk alone."


Visual Novels

  • Fate/stay night has several of these characters: Saber, who became a king over a court who has no idea she's a woman and had to throw away all human bonds in order to rule, and Archer, who became the "Ally of Justice" he always strived to be but lost practically everything to do so, was betrayed by his own ideal and was consigned to an eternal Ironic Hell as a Counter Guardian. Shirou also has at least one Bad End where this happens to him. Rin and Gilgamesh, meanwhile, are subversions: They're amongst the best at what they do and have practically no peers or friends as a result of single-minded devotion to their goals, but neither are terribly bothered by it.
    • Rin actually is bothered by it, her pride however won't let her admit that outside of a single different conversation in UBW... Gilgamesh however is a true subversion.
      • At least until the prequel series, when you learn that it's mostly the result of losing the only friend he'd ever made.
  • This, combined with the obvious communication problems that arise from deafness, is the main reason why Shizune Hakamichi from Katawa Shoujo does not have many friends. She is Yamaku's Student Council President and a Class Representative who takes her responsibilities very seriously and wants to use her position to things to makes the other student's lives enjoyable, but this very same desire makes her come across as bossy to other students and more or less drives everyone else on the Council, including her cousin Lilly, away.

Web Original

  • Subverted extensively by this article in The Onion.
  • Sinfest: The Devil is devoid of any true friends. The Devil wins a race against Buddha and Jesus, only to end up shut in his empty manor after winning while the 'losers' continue to play around outside.
  • Homestuck: Subverted with Jack Noir: after he's gained omnipotence, he relizes that he's bored.
  • Girl Genius has Albia of England, the last (as far as anyone can tell) Immortal God-Queen, which is supposedly a state towering above active Sparks in much the same way a mad scientist is mentally superior to normal humans. She lost contact with the rest around 5000 years ago when their Portal Network was hijacked by an enemy and then disabled. Seeing how they were good friends and people who helped her to become sufficiently godlike entity she is, it's understandable that she tries to re-establish contact by other means and is rather sad when the news are almost invariably bad. But then, she was also disappointed that Luheia wasn't replaced by another Immortal God-Queen, and quite excited to discover Agatha already have tasted and survived the dangerous first step on this way.

Western Animation

  • Frequently parodied on The Simpsons, where Mr. Burns will mourn how his wealth had made him lonely. Then, ten seconds later, he'll change his mind and decide wealth is its own reward after all ("Money fight!"), or it turns out he was just pretending to be lonely to catch people off-guard.

Moe Szyslak: Rich people aren't happy. From the day they're born 'til the day they die, they think they're happy, but trust me, they ain't.
Homer: [Thinking] Moe. Wish he'd shut up.

    • Subverted, played straight then subverted again in this exchange

Homer: Let me ask you something: does your money cheer you up when you're feeling blue?
Mr. Burns: Yes.
Homer: Okay, bad example. [beat] So let me ask you this: does your money ever hug you when you come home at night?
Mr. Burns: Why, no.
Mr Burns: Good heavens, Smithers. They're not afraid of me. What good is money if you can't inspire terror in your fellow man?

  • Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender exemplifies this trope. To gain the love of her father, and compensate for perceived lack of love from her mother, she drove herself to become the most perfect daughter that an Evil Overlord could wish for, and succeeded in style. However, being betrayed by the only two people she had left she could even begin to call friends when she finally went so far down the evil brick road that even they couldn't stomach following her, eventually being stood up to by her 'weakling' brother, and worst of all, discovering that even after all she'd done her father still wouldn't hesitate to treat her, his supposed 'favorite', as an afterthought to be swept aside and dead-ended in a useless job, she began one of the most epic Villainous Breakdowns in the history of animation media. When last seen, she'd been defeated by her brother and one of his allies, and was left a broken and desperately frightened child, sobbing and shrieking helplessly in chains.
    • She was "broken" in every sense of the term. Word of God states that she had to be locked away in what amounted to an insane asylum. She spent the rest of her life there, never recovering from the breakdown, and had to be closely monitored at all times, both for her own safety as well as that of others.
  • One of the episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles consisted of them being thrust into an alternate future of the world where the Shredder has taken it over, turning it into a Dystopia. When they finally meet him, he throws himself at their feet and begs to be taken with them to a world where he doesn't rule, since he had no idea how to actually run the world once he got it.
  • Pelswick : Used Anviliciously in an episode of which featured an new online school popularity poll. Everyone voted down on each other so that the school bully would be alone at the top. "Can everyone vote down on me so I can be a loser too?" (echo)
  • Vlad Masters from Danny Phantom falls under this trope. Despite being one of the richest people in the world (Albeit, one who acquired his fame through less-than-moral means), and one of the most powerful as well, he's also virtually alone (save for his cat Maddie and a few random henchmen) and is both painfully aware that he lost the love of his life and a [surrogate] son to his ex-friend.
  • Happens to Ickis in Aaahh Real Monsters after he finds a stash of toenails (monster currency) ironically owned by a hypochondriac millionaire
  • Batman ends up this way in the DCAU, as revealed in Batman Beyond. Though he becomes probably the second-best well-known superhero on the planet, his driven personality ends up alienating many of his allies and doesn't take time to nurture human relations. Then he suffers a heart attack and is forced to retire. Until Terry shows up, Bruce has been living as a recluse for some 40-odd years. Alfred died of old age, none of his romantic relationships shown in the earlier series panned out, the bat-family long since split up and retired after Bruce forbade them to be superheroes, and he's too old and bitter to help out anyone else in the superhero biz.

Real Life

  • Can be Truth in Television. If you set up a goal in life that has an endpoint, you may find that once you've reached that goal you don't know what to do. It depends on the person though. Generally, if you can't be happy with what you have now and make getting more stuff/obtaining fame/getting political power/whatever a goal to try and fill that void it won't work, but if that stuff is just a part of your life and not the whole point you'll probably think it is pretty awesome.
  • Howard Hughes, whom Citizen Kane was initially supposed to be based on, died having lived the last years of his life cut off from the outside world due his obsessive-compulsive disorder and general paranoia. He was also a painkiller addict, and his aides intentionally gave him excessive doses so that he would be in a confused state and amenable to anything they wanted to do. All his romantic relationships had failed due to his inability to be faithful, and he'd become paranoid that his accountant and friend was plotting against him.
  • Funnily enough, William Randolph Hearst, on whom Citizen Kane was based, by all accounts actually lead a much more satisfying life. Hearst apparently realized this was happening to his life and managed to use his money and smarts to avoid it. He created a truly astounding home known as Hearst Castle in Northern California and would invite people he liked to stay. As long as you weren't a dick he would let you stay for months at a time. Not technically buying love and friendship, simply providing one of the best places in the world for it to develop.
  • Ironically enough, Orson Welles, star of Citizen Kane. Due to his massive ego and oddities, he was essentially blacklisted from working on major Hollywood projects. Fate's a funny thing, particularly considering the above point regarding William Randolph Hearst (although considering Hearst, less-than-impressed with Kane and it's implications about him, was a key figure in getting Welles blacklisted in the first place, it's perhaps not entirely surprising).
    • However, Welles's ego meant that it was easier to get him blacklisted. Nikola Tesla [3] suffered the same fate since Thomas Edison had superior marketing skills and business knowledge.
  • Abd-er-Rahman the Caliph of Andalusia did not seem to enjoy supreme executive power all that much:

I have now reigned about fifty years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot. They amount to fourteen.

  • A possible subversion: Gene Simmons, from the band KISS, loves to express how he highly disagrees with this Trope.
    • He also is nothing like it. He's got a family, his girlfriend/wife (she's, for all intents and purposes, his wife, but they aren't married), he has bedded thousands of chicks, he's famous, loved, rich, has an army of fans and leads a killer rock band.
  • "No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather." -Michael Pritchard
  • Barbara Hutton, the heiress to the Woolworth fortune. She was the richest woman in the world during her lifetime, but it was a life filled with chronic loneliness and depression.
  • Deadmau5 has shown this. He has a blog post about not being able to have a "normal" romantic relationship because of his fame, and he's mentioned suffering from depression and anxiety, especially after he broke up with his girlfriend.
  • By its very nature, becoming an elite, Top of the Anything, means that you are different from the rest, which means that you have less peers.