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 All sympathy given to victims is treacherous. The love is directed exclusively to a victim whom one consider oneself superior to. [...] It's a human psychological mechanism to be excited at the chance to help someone who is weaker, a victim. But this only works for as long as this hierarchy is firmly in place.
Natascha Kampusch, in the epilogue of 3096 Days

Poor Bob! He's not exactly the same way as everyone else. And as we all know, there's only two kinds of people: The good normal people who are like us, and the people who are not like us and who are thus lesser than us. And thus, Bob ought to be grateful that Alice is such a wonderful person who looks down on him with mercy instead of hatred. While she would never consider him an equal, she pities him for not being like her.

Of course, this pity is actually not a good thing: Alice is prejudiced, and her pity is likely to actually hurt Bob: Either by angering him or by encouraging him to resent himself for being a lesser kind of person than Alice.

Alice is certain to consider herself Good. While this belief is misguided, she might actually be a very sympathetic character as she struggles with her own prejudice. Her position might also give her a lot of grief, as her fellow bigots consider her a traitor for not being enthusiastic about Torches and Pitchforks. As she listens to Bob and starts understanding that he actually has a point, she might also be very ashamed of letting herself fall for his heresies and fear that she is turning Evil by listening to him.

Bob might be a superpowered mutant, gay or whatever, maybe even left-handed. But whatever's "wrong" with him, it's only wrong according to Alice (and her peers, if any): It's not portrayed by the narrative as actually being wrong. If Bob actually is evil, see instead Bad Powers, Bad People, Depraved Homosexual or similar.

Note that the thing Alice pities Bob for doesn't have to be something Bob cares about or even notices. Being left-handed or whatever didn't make Bob feel different until Alice started yapping about it. One of them is likely to come across as Blue and Orange Morality here, but which one really depends on the situation. Of course, the whole drama may very well be about a single incident rather than something that is a regular part of Bob's life. This is also a tactic that is commonly employed by Fan Haters and Complaining About People Not Liking the Show, a la "It's a shame you suffer from this affliction that's causing you to like/dislike X." Very much Truth in Television.

Sometimes a version or subversion of your run-of-the-mill Strawman Political. Compare Moral Guardians, Windmill Political, Internalized Categorism, Black and White Insanity and Heteronormative Crusader. Contrast For Happiness.

Examples of Pitying Perversion include:

Anime and Manga

  • Arguably can apply to Bleach's Neliel Tu Oderschvank - she openly tells Nnoitra that she pities him because he is "an animal" in comparison to her and cannot comprehend his motivations towards fighting or his reasons for living. Naturally, he does not take this well.

Comic Books

  • Common in the works of the German cartoonist Ralf König. A good example is a show-within-a-show-within-the-comic. The protagonist is a film critic who runs on Pitying Perversion Type A and shows the audience a movie that runs on Pitying Perversion Type B. The comic start with the film critic ranting about how movies these days are naive and shallow when it comes to homosexuality, making horrible mistakes such as portraying gays as capable of happiness and meaningful lives. Then he shows his own favorite movie. It's about gays getting beaten to death and falling in love with each other as they lie dying in the hospital. After the movie, he feels so sorry for the poor poor little homos that he pretty much has a nervous breakdown.
  • In Preacher (Comic Book), a temporary main character is a tough cop who is secretly a gay masochist - and thus a pathetic person who is unworthy of his badge. The whole reveal scene seem to be constructed to underscore how cool and noble his partner is: Cool for his contempt for the outed Armored Closet Gay, noble for doing it in a aloof manner.
  • In one strip of The Feeling Prince Charles Had, a heterosexual character talks to a homosexual and holds a little well-meaning rant about how he thinks it's okay to be gay, ending with wondering when we will ever get rid of homophobia and start treating homosexuals as equals. The reply: "Maybe when you no longer feel you need to give me permission".
  • This comic Strip from Joaquin Lavado (Quino) is titled "They are just like us." Here comes a translation:

 This “globalization” issue let us to realize that the people of other races and cultures fall in love, just like us.

And, like us, make love, and children are born of that love. Children that they love and care about, just like us.

And they need music to express themselves, dance and have fun, just like us.

And they weep his sorrows in tears as ours own tears, and laugh out loud their joys with laughter, just like us.

They even rent the same movies that we see and eat the same fast food with the same soda that we drink here.

What shows us all of this? That THEY, only apparently so different, ARE JUST LIKE US!


It sounds so easy to say: "They are just like us!" How long time will it take for us to even begin to say "We are just like them"?



  • Angel's father in X-Men: The Last Stand: His quest to help his son is utterly misguided, only fueling the son's self-hatred. As he caught his young Angel trying to cut off his own wings, he reacted with revulsion to the fact that his son was a Mutant rather than to the fact that he was harming himself. He then dedicated his life to trying to "cure" his son from being a mutant, instead of helping himself and his son to accept him for who he is. Eventually the son rebels against this, eventually leading him to use his mutant power to save his Father's life.
  • The Breakfast Club This is Claire's attitude towards the unpopular kids in school, particularly Bender. Her popularity and friends force her to be mean to those "beneath her," and much of her conflict stems from hating the fact that this is so.
  • Played with by the protagonists of Inception as they write the story of the Dream Within a Dream. Their target is a young heir who they intend to manipulate to make a certain business decision. There is some resentment between him and his dead father, with the father's last word to him being "disappointed". The protagonists resolve this by giving him a fake epiphany...

 Son: I know, you were disappointed because I couldn't be you.

Father: No... I was disappointed... because you tried.

  • Secretary is one of the very very few romantic comedies with a masochist as the protagonist. It is also the perhaps only romantic comedy that starts with the protagonist getting signed out from a mental hospital and has a lot of heavy mental problems that are not Played for Laughs at all. Also, when she tries to date around to find a new partner to satisfy her masochism, all guys she encounter are worse than pathetic.
  • The main conflict in The SM Judge is about how the prosecutor and others are trying to cast Magda in the role of the poor little victim who everyone should feel sorry for - never mind that the prosecutor himself is the only one having a real harmful influence on her life. Ironically, she didn't get any help neither when she hated herself for being a masochist or when she got abused for real by her previous husband. Nope, the pity comes only after she has turned her life around so that everything is going great.
  • In Mammoth, believing prostitution to be horrible, Leo keep feeling sorry for Cookie. He does this in a way that's actually shaming her and would damage her emotionally if she internalized it.


  • In 3096 Days and I Choose Life, the autobiographies of Natascha Kampusch and Sabine Dardenne, they both spend the last part of their books discussing this trope. Both women were kidnapped as kids, and after they got free they experienced that people tried to reduce them to a victimhood-role that was basically there for these people to feel better about themselves at the victim's expense.
  • Don Quixote in the first part of the novel give us The Barber and the Curate, two Moral Guardians, and in the second part Loony Fan Sanson Carrásco, whose sincere desire to help that poor fool, Don Quixote and cure his madness is sabotaged by this attitude, rendering all of them into Threshold Guardians. (Also, all three do things to help him that could be easily described as “crazy”)

Live Action TV

  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Cardassians, the main characters do a creepy case of Pitying Perversion by deciding Rugal's identity for him against his will, and then insisting that he's suffering from Internalized Categorism because the identity they have chosen for him and eventually condemned him to, by giving him away to the stranger Ben decided deserved him the most - by virtue of being his biological father and the victim of a political conspiracy is one he hates.
    • In all fairness to the main characters, Rugal's adoptive parents hate Cardassians and raised Rugal to do the same, despite the fact that Rugal is biologically a Cardassian.
  • A Political Correctness Gone Mad parody occurs in the "Early 21st Century Romanticism" episode of Community; when Britta makes a friend who is a lesbian, she uses this as an excuse to not-so-subtly brag about what a politically correct person she is. At one point, the rather naive and sheltered Annie curiously asks her some questions about her friend, and Britta uses this as an excuse to condescendingly lecture her on her 'homophobia' and how it makes her a lesser person. Then it turns out the friend is in fact not a lesbian, and in fact was only hanging out with Britta because she thought Britta was the lesbian.
  • In an episode of Fringe, a doctor with a paraplegic son was killing other paraplegics in an attempt to find a cure for his son's condition. When the son found out, he was not only horrified by the murders his father was committing, but incredibly hurt that his father didn't accept him the way he was.
  • An episode of Saved by the Bell had Zack dating a paraplegic girl. He was very considerate to her, but to such an extent that he slid into this trope. She called him out on it and broke up with him by the end of the episode.


  • Nanne Grönvall's song "Fördomar" (Prejudice) plays this for laughs. The whole song is about the protagonist bragging about how she's a perfect Mary Sue who do not have any prejudice whatsoever. The first verse is simply about how great and open-minded she is in general. The second verse is the Alice of this trope, expecting gratitude from gays for not despising them. The rest of the song goes downhill from there with blatant racism (against blacks AND whites), sexism (against men AND women), ageism (against young people AND old people) and so on.

Visual Novels

Western Animation

  • Princess Clara on Drawn Together does this constantly, but especially in the first episode when she continually offends Foxxy with her racist assumptions.

Real Life

  • This was actually the start of liberalization towards homosexuality in the western world: Instead of criminals, they were now considered only sick. Not that anyone would consider this progressive nowadays, since Society Marches On. Still, without this first step, homosexuality might still be considered a crime.
  • Autism Speaks has the goal of curing Autism. You might say it has good intentions, but many autistic individuals dislike the way they portray autism.
    • Since autistics grow up perceiving the world differently than neurotypical people, many autistic individuals would rather have the unique accomplishments of autistic musicians, artists, scientists and inventors held up to say "These people are different, but also important to the world" rather than "These people are broken, pity and help us fix them."
  • This cracked article, "5 old timey prejudices that still show up in every movie" argues that this attitude from the white people is why there are not non-white protagonists of Blockbuster movies (except Will Smith).
  • In the heyday of internet anime fandom, this was how fans of "true" (aka subtitled) anime treated fans who only had access to the dubs, or even liked them. Sailor Moon fandom was especially pathological about this.
  • The most common response a person could get upon a friend finding out they'd never played their favorite game or seen their favorite show was "I weep for you."