Created By: Uriel1988 on June 14, 2012 Last Edited By: Uriel1988 on June 27, 2012

Flat Jerk

A Jerkass and nothing else.

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Trope
"People like this don't exist in the real world. We have jerks but they aren't cartoonish movie-jerks who only say and do things designed to make the audience hate them."
Confused Matthew, in his review of Titanic

There are Jerkasses aplenty in fiction, some may have a softer side, or a Morality Pet; even those that don't can have at least some redeeming qualities.

Not so in this case.

The Flat Jerk is a character who's entire personality revolves around being as big a jerk as possible, whenever possible, even if there's absolutely nothing to be gained from it.

For related Tropes: see Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk, Stupid Evil and Alpha Bitch.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • June 14, 2012
    BearyScary
    Isn't this too indistinct from Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk? This might be a case of The Same But More Specific.
  • June 15, 2012
    Uriel1988
    Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk would actually be a more specific version of this. I'd argue that there's a lot more characters in fiction who are only there to be jerks than there are jerks whose humanizing moments are but a deception.
  • June 15, 2012
    Psi001
    Yeah a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk is someone who specifically gets a moment of supposed redemption but only to subvert it. This is just about a guy who has zero depth and redeeming aspects, and is displayed for no other reason than for the audience to think 'wow, what a tool'. This trope could be useful since too many people connect such a character to a Complete Monster (who is similar but aimed at a much higher more sinister scale).

    This trope could work on a similar scale as a Straw Loser, when you want a flawed but likeable character to come off as endearing, have another that is much much worse. May also act as a Shadow Archetype.

    • Roger of American Dad interchanges between this and a slightly sympathetic Jerk Ass Depending On The Writer. A lot of his humor derives into shock value gags showing how much of a depraved self aware sociopath he is.
    • A common complaint with the De Patie Freleng era Looney Tunes was Flanderizing Daffy Duck into a Straw Jerk. While Daffy had already evolved into an arrogant jerk in the fifties, he was at least vaguely affable. In many of his bouts against Speedy Gonzales in the sixties however, being an asshole to the stubborn end was almost the only characteristic he had.
    • Some antagonists in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic lean close to this, often due to being a Shadow Archetype for one of the main characters. Gilda and Diamond Tiara have near to no redeeming qualities and the large majority of their role is devoted to them Kicking The Dog in some manner, sometimes more so than actual villains.
    • Jeff, Glenn Quagmire's brother in law in Family Guy episode "Screams Of Silence", who has little other existance onscreen than to horribly abuse his wife Brenda and garner the horror and disgust of even the most immoral members of Quahog. Peter Griffin, and to an extent, any character in the show can act as Rule Of Funny variants, though are less consistant.
  • June 15, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Goes in the Characters As Device index.
  • June 16, 2012
    robinjohnson
    This is a Bad Strawclone. The point of, say, Straw Feminist is that she's a character created ostensibly to represent feminists, but who actually only embodies the author's weird ideas of feminism. For a Straw Jerk to be a thing, "jerk" would have to be a real, defensible position that some people identify with, and which was being misrepresented.

    Also, since the definition specifically says this character has no non-jerky qualities, any example that includes a qualifier like "to an extent" or "leans close to this" or "interchanges between this and..." doesn't meet the criteria. And that's almost every single example so far.
  • June 16, 2012
    Routerie
    ^ Agree with all of this.
  • June 16, 2012
    MagBas
    Really, Flat Jerk sounds as a best name.
  • June 16, 2012
    chunkay
    Does the term "Straw Jerk", at least, within TV series, imply that the jerk may be a guest character? We need a jerk to raise the ire of the viewers, we don't want to ruin a character we have already developed, so bring in a character with no other point other than to be a Straw Jerk. Alternatively, there are cases where characters can become a short-term-straw jerk (Think the Family Guy episode where Peter becomes a bully).

    This can be especially apparent in shows where everyone has jerkass traits and a guest is brought in to show that even Jerkass has standards or because the jerkass actions in question would have too negative an effect on an established character.

    • Count Bleck in Super Paper Mario is created simply to be worse than Bowser so that Bowser can be playable
    • Jeff, Quagmire's brother in Family Guy is created because it would have pretty serious consequences if a developed character was suddenly revealed to be a wifebeater.
  • June 16, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Flat Jerk is a great name!

    chunkay: I think you're right, but also, if the jerk was around for longer then they'd have to gain some depth and Character Development. A short term character avoids that.

    • On one episode of Friends, Rachel was dating a man played by Ben Stiller who would have bizarre fits of anger where he would scream at anyone for ridiculous reasons. This was probably poking fun at the tendency of sitcom characters (even on Friends but also Seinfeld, Scrubs, etc) to break up with love interests because they can't get past their weird quirks. No one would believe Ross because this guy's behaviour was so ridiculous.

    There used to be a trope called The Paulo that might be connected with this, but I don't remember what it's called now. It was basically for temporary love interests that are horrible and only exist as obstacles for the Official Couple (I think?)
  • June 16, 2012
    chunkay
    Heart Of An Astronaut: Romantic False Lead

    This trope is similar, but there's no requirement that they have any romantic involvement with any of the cast, and as I say, it could be the case that an established character has been temporarily changed by something, leading to a temporary Face Heel Turn.

  • June 16, 2012
    Uriel1988
    For a Straw Jerk to be a thing, "jerk" would have to be a real, defensible position that some people identify with, and which was being misrepresented.

    But where does that leave Straw Loser?

    That said, I think that "Flat Jerk" is indeed a better title. Kudos to MagBas for thinking that up.
  • June 17, 2012
    SKJAM
    I too vote for "Flat Jerk."

    • Jed of The Wedding Bride is a deliberate example, created for the sole purpose of being unlikable and an obvious poor romantic choice.
  • June 27, 2012
    fulltimeD
    This is... not a distinct trope from either Jerkass or Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk. The Same But More Specific.
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