->''"My advice would be to bring a friend that has your basic characteristics, but is slightly less attractive."''
-->-- '''Dan Arieli''' gives dating tips in ''Predictably Irrational''

A character who exists to provide a flattering contrast to the audience by being worse than the audience in some specific respect.

This trope exists on a sliding scale of scorn; at one end the character simply exists as a flattering contrast to the audience (the IdiotHero often fits here). At this end of the spectrum, the audience focuses on the "if ''this'' character can do x, then I certainly can do x!"

On the other end of scorn scale is the harder version, where a character that is made pathetic so the audience can feel better about themselves (via [[GratuitousGerman Schadenfreude]]). TheDitz, a very common trope in [[SitCom Sitcoms]], is this (but PlayedForLaughs).

Arguably an Expectation Lowerer is an {{Inversion}} of EscapistCharacter; Escapist Characters allow you to feel good by giving you an AudienceSurrogate that you can experience awesomeness through. An Expectation Lowerer makes you feel good in the exact opposite way; you ''cannot'' identify with this character and this character, in at least one respect, is worse than you.

Not to be confused with ThisLoserIsYou; where a [[AudienceSurrogate character you identify with]] is the character that sucks. ThisLoserIsYou basically flings the audience's faults back into their face whereas an Expectation Lowerer allows them to distance themselves from their faults.

Compare/Contrast the MarySue, a character who (like the ExpectationLowerer) the audience does ''not'' identify with, but due to the character's ''strengths'' rather than ''weaknesses''.

Possibly related to Creator/FriedrichNietzsche and his concept of "Pathos Of Distance" (where one casts that which one does ''not'' identify with as the morally wrong).



* Creator/FriedrichNietzsche and his aforementioned concept of the "pathos of distance" is arguably related to this. Nietzsche argued that moral concepts came about because societies/groups/cliques defined themselves (and a list of traits they allegedly embodied) as "the good" and hence "the unlike us" became "the bad."
* St Thomas Aquinas believed that the righteous in {{Heaven}} will be able to observe the torments of the wicked in {{Hell}}; [[ComedicSociopathy the better to enjoy their blessedness]]. This is probably the harshest demonstration of the second kind of Expectation Lowerer, with gloating and Schadenfreude [[RecycledInSPACE on a celestial level]].
** Or, as a demonstration of justice to their persecutors.
** [[OlderThanTheyThink St Thomas was by no means the first person to think this]]; the early Christian writer Tertullian wrote [[http://www.archive.org/stream/apologydespectac00tertuoft#page/298/mode/2up a remarkably nasty account]] of how much he was looking forward to seeing the benighted Roman heathens burning in Hell.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* This is the reason for many negative character tropes such as the BumblingDad.
* Every single guest on ''Series/TheJerrySpringerShow'', and the UK equivalent Jeremy Kyle.
* HopelessAuditionees on any TV Talent Show (for instance, ''Series/AmericanIdol'').
* All of the main characters of ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia''.
* Studies show that this is literally true of the contestants on reality television; it can actually serve as a mental substitute for self-betterment.
* Harry Kim's job on ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' was basically to make everyone else on the USS Voyager look better. Garrett Wang didn't really get to act much[[note]]supposedly, the producers ''told him'' to be more wooden[[/note]], and his character wasn't allowed to accomplish anything, or get what he wanted, or have a love life to speak of, or get promoted[[note]]''seven years'' at the rank of Ensign[[/note]], and even things that would pass without comment on any other Trek series got him into trouble[[note]]when Kirk or Riker sleeps with the GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe of the week, nobody cares, but when Harry gets it on, he gets an STD ''and'' a formal reprimand from Janeway[[/note]]; meanwhile, his character's best friend, Tom Paris, was TheAce with skills in literally every field of human endeavour and, by the end of the series, a wife and the beginnings of a family. And even despite this, he still ended up more popular than [[BaseBreakingCharacter Neelix]], which only goes to show that having someone be dumped on constantly for seven years can still earn a certain measure of sympathy.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* According to Scott Adams, this was the reason he ended the relationship between ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}} and Liz. He kept getting e-mails stating essentially "Dilbert shouldn't get lucky before I do."

[[folder:Web Original]]
* This, mixed with BileFascination, drives sites like Encyclopedia Dramatica and People of UsefulNotes/{{Walmart}} (among many, many others).
* The ''Scumbags of the Internet'' section on ''WebVideo/ADoseOfBuckley'' gives us the following catchphrase, which all but invokes this trope:
-->''"So thanks to today's Scumbag of the Internet, [insert name or nickname here], for making us all feel better by knowing no matter what we do in life, we'll always be better than he/she/they is/are."''

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* [[TheAlcoholic Barney Gumble]] from ''Franchise/TheSimpsons'', is meant to be even more of a StrawLoser than Homer is. Subverted in that Barney makes an effort to get clean and sober (although he does fall OffTheWagon every now and again.) He's been OutOfFocus in more recent seasons, because, with his recovery efforts, he does not fulfill his Expectation Lowerer role anymore.
** As well as some [[MoralGuardians parental groups]] not [[UnfortunateImplications understanding or tolerating the implication]] that such a roaring drunk [[RealityIsUnrealistic could have an artistic side]].
* Carl of ''WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce''. Fat, balding, ugly, hairy, a slob, a perverted sleazeball, and beyond.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' is not the brightest bulb in the circuit by any means, but compared to [[StrawLoser Patrick]], he looks like a genius.
* Richard Watterson on ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' seems to have the sole purpose of saying and doing things so stupid even LoserProtagonist Gumball sees how dumb they are. Notably, Richard, unlike Gumball, is ''such'' an idiotic loser that [[TheFool things often actually work around to his advantage precisely because of the fact that no one expects anything of him]], so in a way, by making Gumball (and by extension [[ThisLoserIsYou the audience]]) seem like less of a loser, he makes Gumball look like ''more'' of a loser.
* ''WesternAnimation/MoralOrel'' has Clay Puppington, an abusive, self-destructive, hypocritical, alcoholic AttentionWhore who hates everyone and everything, ''especially'' himself. Deconstructed in season 3, when his dysfunction gradually alienates every single person in his life.