Comedy, as has been noted before, ain't pretty.
John Cleese once noted, when talking about Fawlty Towers, that comedy is very much like tragedy, the only difference being that comedy lacks sympathy towards the character. This is often because the character in question does not particularly merit sympathy; for example, Basil Fawlty lives a life full of hardships, annoyances and general misery, but because he is antisocial and offensive towards his guests and staff, often with little provocation, and most of his misery is caused by his own actions, you find yourself laughing at him rather than mourning his misfortune. If Basil Fawlty were a decent person rather than an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, Fawlty Towers would be a depressing exercise in watching a man tortured undeservedly (see also Kafka Komedy).
We sometimes laugh when we see someone else get hurt. Schadenfreude is a staple of humor, there's no question about that. But Slapstick is only acceptable in limited doses these days, and people just don't throw around banana peels like they used to. And so, in order for humor to be committed, writers must turn to the psychological equivalent.
This means that in any given situation, the Butt Monkey of the moment must be surrounded by people who are capable of making him miserable, whether intentionally or not. This capacity for cruelty and its lack of consequences comprise what we call Comedic Sociopathy.
Sociopathy, loosely, is a condition in which a person is indifferent to or unaware of the rights and feelings of other people. In comedy, these symptoms show up in the darnedest places. Any time a character needs to be trodden on, put upon, tongue-lashed, stung, bashed, insulted, dejected, neglected, and all kinds of other mean nasty ugly things, somebody's got to be there to do it to them. And so, regardless of the personalities of all the characters involved, everyone eventually develops these symptoms.
What's amazing about the way this plays out is not that there will be characters who are mean, and snarky, and sarcastic, and uncaring, but the behavior of the characters who are not. In order for the appropriate level of hilarious misery to occur, other characters — even kind, loving characters — must temporarily lose their ability to sense, understand, or care about the emotional discomfort, pain, and suffering that the current Butt Monkey is experiencing. They may regain it when the plot calls for it, but for that critical moment of "gag," the character is essentially a sociopath. In the worst cases, when there's a Writer on Board, Comedic Sociopathy can cause characterization to break down completely, allowing close friends to deliver cutting remarks like casually thrown knives.
Comedic Sociopathy can be seen in nearly all comedy. It is the root of shows like Seinfeld, Family Guy, and Fawlty Towers, but it shows up just as readily on Sesame Street.
A subtrope of the Out-of-Character Moment. See also Heroic Comedic Sociopath, a character who does this all the time and loves it. This trope is what the Sadist Show and Black Comedy live off of. This may result in No Sympathy in situations where the character is clearly deserving of it. Too Funny to Be Evil coupled with Rule of Funny is the basic principle that allows this trope to work. Compare to Laugh with Me or Cringe Comedy. See also Disproportionate Retribution because in comedy this is usually okay.
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The Panda from the "Never Say No To Panda" adverts who gets angry at people who say no to eating his cheese. Usually it's just trashing the surrounding area, but in the hospital advert he pulls the drip from the patient.
Similarly, Jack Link's Beef Jerky's "Messin' with Sasquatch" series has a few guys play pranks on a sasquatch, then watching as the big guy goes...well...Bigfoot on their behinds. Among other body parts.
Anime and Manga
Ah! My Goddess has Belldandy herself, who is a goddess, All-Loving Hero, Friend to All Living Things (and nonliving things!), and The Empath. Belldandy is not omniscient, but she is powerfully sensitive to emotions, and always knows just the right thing to say or do to give everyone else the epiphanies they need to triumph. She is beautiful and compassionate and perfect in every way...except to Keiichi, the man she loves. With Keiichi, she literally cannot distinguish love from the flu. She says exactly the wrong things to cause Keiichi to panic about others finding out her secret, and never notices his fear or flusteration. She embarrasses him, throws unintentional jealous fits that cause earthquakes and paranormal activity, and generally causes as much stress and mayhem for Keiichi as the villains, or at least the other good guys. Belldandy is a perpetrator, however unintentionally, of Comedic Sociopathy of the highest order, and poor Keiichi is her unwitting victim.
Ranma ˝. If you can't maintain a sense of humor, you miss the point. Every one of the characters is a grade-A Jerk Ass at one point or another, even the saintly seeming Kasumi. It's all for the funny, but analyzing the series seriously puts every single character squarely into Dysfunction Junction.
Love Hina. If you can't stand Ranma ˝, don't watch this anime. The manga is a little less so.
Taken to extremes with Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan. Dokuro honestly thinks she's helping Sakura in spite of her frequent (and often deadly) physical assaults, constant demands for his attention, and having been (directly and indirectly) responsible for Sakura's social isolation.
Axis Powers Hetalia has an ever growing array of characters representing various countries and territories from around the world. The number of Tsundere and Kuudere characters that result means the show runs on this trope.
Haruhi Suzumiya: Sexual harassment? Check. Regularly abuses her best friends? Check. Blackmails people with photos of scandalous events she orchestrated? Check. Abducts people just because she thinks they're interesting? Check. Treats people as objects and is generally incapable of comprehending the fact that other people possess feelings that differ from her own? Check.
While the series itself treats these actions as comedic, characters within the series (especially Kyon) see it as... well, incredibly selfish and annoying.
Maison Ikkoku attempted to use the same formula as Ranma ˝ and Urusei Yatsura but with a far more sympathetic protagonist, making the cruelty much more apparent and sometimes sparking an entirely different set of reactions.
FLCL. Although, it could be argued that this whole angle was a Batman Gambit on Haruko's part to force Naota into the proper state of emotional turbulence needed to free Atomsk... wait, that doesn't make it better at all, does it?
In Tona Gura, Yuuji's intrusive, often juvenile pursuit of Kazuki, and his sister Marie's literally armed response to any and all signs of such lewdness. Possibly also Hatsune tying Marie up to stop her punishment of Yuuji, and her ignoring Kazuki's stated desire to stop her extreme efforts at matchmaking.
Somehow, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei manages to pull of the feat of playing Comedic Sociopathy for laughs... And, yes, this statement takes into consideration the fact that Comedic Sociopathy is already playing on sociopathy for laughs.
In Chrono Crusade, although Rosette is firmly portrayed as a very caring individual, she has several moments where she flies off the handle and doesn't think about how much destruction she's causing (or how much abuse she's putting poor Chrono through). This is justified, however—Rosette's Hot-Blooded enough that she's probably genuinely not realizing what she's doing in the heat of the moment, Chrono can regenerate (and any major use of his powers hurts her more than him anyway), and whenever someone's shown as being actually hurt by her rambunctiousness, she's always portrayed as horrified and repentant.
Pique and Lilie's treatment of Ahiru in Princess Tutu is sometimes cruel enough that it swerves into this trope. In fact, by the time the second season rolls around Lilie's love of drama has her flanderized into someone so obsessed with causing suffering so she can "comfort" the people who experience it that it's a Running Gag in the fandom that Lilie is actually a sadist.
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo runs on this trope well, especially the way Bo-bobo treats all of his friends but Beauty.
Happens from time to time in Pandora Hearts. The main protagonist Oz can be kind of a jerk sometimes, but it's always played for laughs. Especially when it's aimed at Gilbert. Everyone (including the author) seems to delight in tormenting Gilbert.
Knuckles' treatment in Sonic X bordered into this trope on occasion as he gradually evolved into the Butt Monkey of the group. It wasn't that unusual to have rivals Sonic and Rouge or even bratty jerkasses like Amy winding him up, it was more so when Cream and Cosmo joined in on it though. He got involved in the final season arc to stop the Meterax after the latter physically threatened him.
While almost everyone in Excel♥Saga is a sociopath to some extent, due to varying levels of Jerkass and indifference, Hyatt is the only one who is actually oblivious to problems she causes to Watanabe.
Even stronger in the manga where Hyatt flat-out doesn't care about the problems she causes him.
Yukinari of Girls Bravo spends just about every episode of the first season being horribly abused by his 'best friend' for being an Accidental Pervert. On one occasion she kicked him so hard that his head hit the edge of his bathtub and he bled profusely. For having the audacity to walk into his own bathroom when his friend was borrowing his shower. And yet, it's all Played for Laughs. This show also includes instances of other horrible acts of violence and rampant attempted Black Comedy Rape. Even in the second season her actions are questionable, like when she emotionally manipulated Yukinari into cross-dressing for an event and allowed him to get molested by Fukuyama since it meant Fukuyama would pay her. Of course, that was played for comedy as well.
Winry from Fullmetal Alchemist throws a wrench at Ed every time he breaks his automail (that's often) and it's always supposed to be comedy. Despite the fact that it could actually be lethal.
Some of the comedy in the series comes from Naruto taking Sakura's brutal super-powered punches, with zany music playing in the background. Also, on one occasion when Jiraiya was caught peeping on Tsunade bathing in his younger years, she proceeded to break both of his arms, six of his ribs, and ruptured a number of his organs as punishment. He himself states he came very close to dying. This was also treated as comedy when Yamato warned Naruto if he peeked on Sakura while they were at the onsen she would probably do the same to him as punishment and Naruto gets Blank White Eyes and stays in the same spot in a Heroic BSOD state for the rest of the day.
The relationship between Louise and Saito in Zero no Tsukaima is distinctly unhealthy as Louise is, quite frankly, violently abusive towards Saito. She calls him her dog, but if she treated even an actual dog like that she'd be prosecuted for animal cruelty. At one point in the novels, she beats him with a whip after viciously beating him the night before. Not a riding crop, an actual whip.
Back to Rumiko Takahashi, much of the comedy in InuYasha relies on sociopathy, with Miroku's lechery (including Sango's violent reactions), Shippo's pranks, Kagome's abuse of the "sit" command, and everyone's treatment of Myoga.
Durarara!!: Shizuo is always throwing heavy things (vending machines, trash cans...) at anyone that made him angry; especially Izaya. However, Izaya doesn't seem to have any damage from it, and gives back as much in the form of fast moving cars, knife assaults, and hits on Shizuo's life. (It's a strange relationship.)
Approximately 90% of humor associated with Hamel in Violinist of Hameln is built on this trope. Whenever the mood switches from serious to comedic, he acts like an absolute asshole towards his companions, particularly the girl he secretly loves, as well as unfortunate bystanders. And like everything else in this manga, his Comedic Sociopathy is quite over the top. In other words, which half of his Jerk with a Heart of Gold personality is currently dominant depends on whether the scene is supposed to be humorous or not.
Slayers: Lina Inverse falls somewhere between this and a more mercenary attitude. While she has a moral code that she abides by, her selfishness frequently causes her to be completely apathetic to issues of those around her (including charging a village to take care of a dragon...that she accidentally released). Her multiple berserk buttons don't help either, though they are done comedically
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu. It's one of the most extreme examples out there! The two men, Akihisa Yoshi and Yuuji Sakamoto are abused by their own admirers in just about every episode over the stupidest stuff! Yuuji's admirer Shouko is particularly nasty as she pokes out his eyeballs frequently so he can't look at other girls, tazes him, makes him go to school without his pants, and even drowns him just so she can give him CPR! What's more is that Yuuji's friends support the relationship and even sometimes encourages Shouko to beat on him! She's even popular among the fanbase!
Kamisama Kiss. Let's start with Tomoe, Nanami's Kitsune familiar. His idea of a fair and proper fight involves torture with one good example being how combines Baleful Polymorph with Faux Flame; transforming his opponent into livestock with the intent to cook them alive and eat them. Then we have the main villian of the series, Akura-Ou, a Psychopathic Manchild whose smiling happy-go-lucky and silly while committing war crimes. No, this is not a horror show; it's a Romantic Comedy.
Baccano!: LaddRusso. He dances like a maniac on the corpses of people he killed, Boom Headshots a little kid, freaking skips when he hears someone getting killed, and shows his love for his fiance by regularly threatening to kill her (though to be fair, she's a Death Seeker, and he really does care for her in his own way). His huge, shit-eating grin doesn't hurt, either.
No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular: Kuroki Tomoko is the embodiment of this more often than not. She's a creepy, anti-social loner with very few friends. The reader might feel sorry for her if she didn't ensure this would remain the case by constantly insulting people in her mind, and occasionally verbally as well. Her bad thoughts usually land her in trouble in one way or another, so most of her pain and suffering is actually her fault...and the reason she's not popular.
Knights of the Dinner Table lives off of this trope, especially with how the players and Hackmasters relate to each other. Justified, as it's an outgrowth of the Killer Gamemaster philosophy that dominated roleplaying games the time period the comic parodies—Hackmasters were expected to show players no mercy and players were expected to twist the knife if they got even a smidgen of an advantage. This, however, only applies within the game... it's considered in very poor taste between the characters to invoke this trope in Real Life. Jerkasses like Stevil and Bob still pull it, but they're much more likely to get called on it.
The Joker is a very literal comedic sociopath. Some of his best moments are as hilarious as they are evil.
Robin: I have to admit, the barracuda down the pants was funny.
In Sam & Max: Freelance Police, Max's most common solution when he's given the reins may as well be "give the problem the coolest death possible."
Fun With Milk & Cheese lives on this trope. The only reason the comic gets away with beating up senior citizens, stabbing bystanders, and incinerating furries is because it's too comedic to take seriously.
Bad guy Schlich from one Wilhelm Busch story is made of this. Several times, he comments "That's fatal - heh, heh, but not for me!"
Calamity James of The Beano is the world's unluckiest boy, and gets chewed up by life in every strip; sometimes the punishment comes from his pet lemming or even his mother. This trope makes it funny, though the poor boy wouldn't see it that way.
Iznogoud: Iznogoud's cruelty and Bad Boss tendencies towards Dilat are entirely played for laughs.
Played with in Dungeon Keeper Ami. Mukrezar's actions during his war with the Avatar left an entire continent devastated and populated by nothing but the undead. If the number of undead is any indication, casualties numbered in the millions easily. He tortures for pleasure and is inventive when doing so. He is also a terrible cook. Yet the only person who seems to actually find this funny is Mukrezar himself and his Butler. Everyone else hates and/or fears him. Despite all this, he is a genuinely funny and charismatic character and largely liked by those that follow the story.
Meta-example: Characters that fit this trope are often the subject of bashing by authors who like to file off the "comedic" part of the trope and turn up the "sociopathy" aspect by treating their behavior seriously. Does a girl smack around a guy for catching her coming out of a bath or for being just kind of a goofball? Treat her as if she's dangerously unhinged or make the slapstick violence cause real injuries. In some fandoms, treatment of this trope as Dude, Not Funny! is more common than playing it straight.
In the first movie, the couple have a cutesy scene where they're falling in love. They display their affections by blowing up a toad and a snake into balloons. It's funny as heck, but they just let the creatures float away, with little chance of deflating. Let's not even mention that poor bird.
The honeymoon montage of the second movie is just full of this! It's bad enough that Fiona essentially commits murder by throwing Arielto the sharks. Who could forget Shrek and Fiona's enjoying a mud bath while surrounded by fairies trapped in jars?
Dragon eating Farquaad doesn't count, though. Everybody loved her for that.
Calhoun from Wreck-It Ralph gets one such moment toward the end of the film, when Princess Vanellope declares that everyone who was ever mean to her will be executed. It turns out Vanellope was joking, but Calhoun didn't know that at the time.
Felix: Oh, my land!
Calhoun: Oh-hoo... this place just got interesting.
Although not entirely sociopathic, one of the reasons why Chicken Little flopped was because of this trope. In the first few minutes, the main character believes the sky is falling, his father becomes ashamed of him, and the whole town mocks him for it, for a whole year. And afterwards, when C.L. wants to be a baseball star like his dad, everyone except for Abby, Runt, and Fish discourage him. Until he gives his all and wins it for his home team, but then, aliens invade, and...
Films — Live-Action
Goodfellas, in some scenes. To the extent reaching disturbing levels.
Meet the Parents. It's so horrible, that you start to feel sorry for Greg thirty minutes in.
Along Came Polly makes light of a blind ferret who keeps hurting himself by running into walls.
The Coen Brothers' A Serious Man is a very good example of this. The premise is very Job-like, but many people have reported that the worse things get for him, the more you laugh out of the sheer ridiculousness of it all.
Burn After Reading plays it more for laughs; the characters all suffer horribly (often due to their own idiocy) and it's hilarious.
The Filipino comedy/romance film "Ang Tanging Pamilya" has a lot of gags revolving around Comedic Sociopathy, with the victim being the American character (played by Sam Milby). Some of the said gags include:
Being forced to ride his girlfriend's father's jeepney from weird angles (hang by the handlebars on the back door, then climb on top of the friggin' roof, then hang below the jeepney a la Indiana Jones).
Being forced to clean said jeepney while a huge downpour of rain is happening. The accompanied comment from those two characters ("That's just some mild rain.") just made it worse.
Having to bring a pregnant woman to the hospital and assist her during delivery - while he himself has an appointment to make with his girlfriend.
Stopping a fistfight on his way to the said appointment - and getting arrested along with the two quarreling dudes. To add insult to the injury, he was set free several hours later just because he did not immediately say he was not part of the trouble (he was saying that fact all along, even during the arrest).
Finally, having an Innocent Bystander faint right in front of him as he was to meet up with his girlfriend, prompting him to send the dude to the hospital (man, he's such a messiah).
Home Alone is a Trope Codifier for recent times. Kids and teenagers might find it funny at the time, but after growing up and for the adults who were too old to catch it when they were kids, the Fridge Horror of all that bodily harm sets in.
This article, written by an ER doctor, details the horrific injuries the burglars would sustain from Kevin's traps if they weren't in slapstick comedy characters.
Hey, they chose to break into someone else's house, and chose not to withdraw when they found the house was occupied by someone prepared to defend it. Anything that happened to them thereafter they brought on themselves.
Sky High: Boomer and Medulla partake in this on occasion.
Star Trek: Generations. Lampshaded then deconstructed. While Worf was getting dropped into the ocean (in the holodeck...) as "reward" for promotion to Lieutenant Commander...
Data: I am uncertain as to why someone falling into freezing water is amusing.
Beverly: It's all done in good fun, Data. Get in the spirit of things.
Data: Ah. (Cue Data pushing Beverly overboard, then wondering why no one is laughing)
The Hangover Part II puts Alan in this territory by having him give Teddy some roofalin. Teddy proceeds to sever his own finger while under the influence.
Ignatius Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces has a Master's degree in history and believes life peaked with medieval feudalism and has degenerated ever since. He announces this loudly while bouncing between menial jobs and managing his valve.
Bubba Rogowski in Dennis Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro novels. He's weirdly cute when Angie makes him blush or when he asks Patrick to record all his TV shows (including Entertainment Tonight) while he's in prison for a year. Not so much when he's torturing someone for information or selling weapons to child molesters.
Alec, in Swordspoint, embodies this: he's the Deadpan Snarker and he knows it, but he's always at his most amusing when people are high or dying or suffering from severe heartache.
Carl Hiaasen's novels usually include at least one unlikely, terrible, imaginative and painfully undignified death. A man dies during liposuction when the under-qualified surgeon (and bad guy) has a breakdown; another drowns after falling into a dolphin pool while the sexually-deviant dolphin has its way with him. What makes them hilarious is the bizarre circumstances and that it's the comeuppance of one of the book's villains.
That's pretty much the dynamic between Bert and Ernie as well, with Ernie completely oblivious to how irritating he can be toward Bert.
Arrested Development, a show around the farcical exploits of a wealthy family grappling with the loss of their fortune after the patriarch is arrested for many dubious dealings, leaving the Only Sane Man Michael Bluth at the helm of a sinking ship... of fools.
Showcased brilliantly in just about every episode of Blackadder...until the end of the fourth season, when the Comedic Sociopathy of General Melchett and Field Marshall Haig ceases to be comedic and leads to an amazingly poignant finale.
If you only replace Blackadder with Lexx, and those characters with 790, the same applies.
Merlin is one of the most lovable characters ever, but it's still funny as hell when Arthur throws stuff at him — until Merlin escapes Arthur's presence, and we see him with a character sympathetic to his plight. Suddenly, it isn't funny anymore. Until the next time, and then it's hilarious. The Belligerent Sexual Tension doesn't hurt with the funniness, though.
The female cast of Las Vegas frequently acts like this, often having Danny act as the Only Sane Man. Of course, at least with Sam and Nessa, it was their job to do this. Still...
Kenny vs. Spenny. Specifically Kenny, but the crew engages in it from time to time.
Soap's rich cast of characters routinely, and hilariously, took turns humiliating themselves and each other. The mentally ill elderly war veteran, the guy trying to get out of the Mafia, the suicidal gay character, the ventriloquist convinced his dummy is real, the put-upon African-American butler, the promiscuous Tate daughters, the philandering husbands, the sexually dysfunctional Catholic priest, were all mined for loads and loads of comedy gold. In addition, the first season's storyline was based around the murder of a character's son, which of course, was committed in the most hilariously over-the-top fashion possible.
Nearly all the characters in That '70s Show, especially in the later seasons, become prone to this in regards to Eric, from his best friends to his girlfriend to even (and sometimes especially) his parents.
In fact, in one episode, Kelso takes personal offense to the way Hyde treats him after he falls off the water tower, and the fact that it all stemmed from Hyde criticizing the way he drew a pot leaf. Hyde then counters with a childhood story of when Kelso laughed as Kelso's dog bit Hyde, causing him to bleed and cry. Lesson learned by Kelso: "It's funny when friends get hurt."
"Close enough." - Hyde*
Fawlty Towers: Basil Fawlty himself is occasionally guilty of this. One example that comes to mind is when he tricks a deaf guest into turning her hearing aid all the way up — and then shouts as loud as he can directly into it.
M*A*S*H mostly used Frank Burns's misfortunes to this end, although he was never a terribly sympathetic character. Henry Blake also suffered a fair amount of comedic misfortune, though he was much more sympathetic than Frank.
Howard Moon in The Mighty Boosh gradually became more a victim of cruel humour as the series progressed.
Neil in The Young Ones, gratuitously so, although often subverted absurdly to give him the upper hand (i.e. Vyvyan throwing a petrol into his and Rik's bedrooms, only to have the rather positive side effect of clearing up his sinuses).
Rik as well, often much more viciously and without any sympathy.
Titus is built on this trope, yet subverts it, in that even the father is somewhat sympathetic.
The hosts of MythBusters, especially Adam, invoke this trope on a regular basis at their own expense.
Dr. House has moments of this. He managed to redecorate a Jewish doctor's face on a poster into a Hitler in front of said Jewish doctor, then knock out his girlfriend's nagging mother and his best friend with sedatives on the girlfriend's birthday dinner in a single episode. Definitely a Heroic/Comedic sociopath.
Glee. Practically every character is a Jerkass. Sue is the most notable, given her increasingly cartoonish acts of villainy.
While almost everyone in Parks and Recreation does quite a number on poor old Jerry, Leslie Knope is by far the most jarring since she is (usually) so upbeat, positive and kind to everyone.
One episode of How I Met Your Mother has Barney ransacking their house, finding and stealing but ultimately not actually watching a sex tape made by Marshall and Lily. In TV Land, the premise for wacky shenanigans; in Real Life, an egregious (not to mention felonious) violation of privacy.
Some of Barney's past exploits should definitely count. He's pretty sure he once sold a woman.
When Nadia's response to how she deals with stress is "lash out and take it out on [her] loved ones" on Bitchin' Kitchen, you know she isn't the sweetest apple in the cart.
This became a greater presence in Scrubs in Season six as absolutely everyone treated J.D. horribly for almost no reason and complained when he lamented his crappy situation. Whats worse is that we are apparently supposed to agree with the Sociopaths that J.D. should stop whining and grow up (Regardless of the fact that he is an incredibly nice guy being put through absolute hell).
The character most at fault would be the Janitor, who was comically merciless towards J.D. right from the beginning- and even mocks him about it.
While generally a Man Child or Cloudcuckoolander Mr. Bean is often cruel and vicious, mocking patients at the hospital including a wheelchair bound person in a neck-brace, constantly running a Reliant Regal off the road, and generally being a selfish nuisance with zero concern for others. This balance between lack of understanding and actual malice varies from episode to episode, however.
Really applies to pretty much every wizard and everything magic on Wizards of Waverly Place. Max shattering Stevie apparently didn't register with anyone as an accidental homicide; no one seems to see anything wrong with Justin creating a frankenstein-esque monster and setting her loose in school; and Stevie's sending Jeremy from Science down some magical hole to "no idea where" is purely played for laughs even though Harper implied he died. Compared to these offences, even though she's the perennial trouble maker Alex's petty pranks aren't actually all that bad (especially since she invariably ends up punished or apologising).
The audience from Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Some of the series' funniest moments include Drew choking on a mint, Ryan accidentally breaking a light bulb with his head, and Chip injuring Ryan when jumping on his back.
Dirk Gently: Dirk treats his partner like a dogsbody, refuses to pay his receptionist because that way she'll stop showing up to "work" in order to get her pay, lies to the police with a remarkable degree of enthusiasm, swindles his clients, pickpockets corpses, and gives the wrong address to a pizza business so that it will be late and he won't have to pay. That's all in one episode.
The Ferals: This trope was the engine that made the entire show run. Most of the main characters are capable of an astonishing degree of selfishness and cruelty - theft, violence, running scams, and vandalism aren't incidental moments of bad behaviour, they're the Feral way of life. The plot to an entire episode is based on Rattus stealing everyone's money to bet on himself at a cheese-eating contest, before developing toothache just before the match - leading to increasingly violent and slapsticky attempts to get him to visit a dentist, up to and including knocking him unconscious with a baseball bat and tying him up.
Modi: (brandishing said bat) Do you want me to wake him up? Do you? Do you?
"Why Does This Always Happen To Me?" by "Weird Al" Yankovic has the singer/narrator sing the titular chorus in an aggrieved fashion because horrific tragedies cause him to be slightly inconvenienced. Lyrics here.
This is true of nearly all Weird Al's original songs; the narrator is almost always some kind of sociopath or weirdo. See also "Those Were The Good Old Days," which reads like something out of Ed Gein's childhood; and "Alburqueque," the surreal journey of a strange violent man to the titular New Mexico city.
"I Remember Larry" - both Larry (whose pranks often cross the line into criminal territory) and the narrator (who gets back at Larry by breaking into his house late at night and murdering him). The narrator believes Larry would consider this a "pretty good gag."
In the Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray", when Cecil shoots the sailor, the narrator's only reaction is "Oh, you shouldn't do that/Don't you know you'll stain the carpet/Now don't you know you'll mess the carpet."
Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes enjoys beating the stuffing out of Calvin without being provoked. After one such beating, he criticized Calvin for 'moving upwind'. Calvin moved because he could hear Hobbes coming.
I Love Bees: Durga, a vengeful AI, often humorously decides to punish people (for offenses like doing their jobs and annoying people she likes) by hacking into their accounts and changing details to make it look like they committed various crimes. She also makes a guy lose his job for interrupting her conversation, which he has no way of knowing was happening.
In a meta example, many of the members on This Is War act like this
A fair few characters live up to this, however, with events like Logan burning Tex's clothes and making her walk home through crowded London streets in her underwear
Knights of the Old Republic features HK-47, an assassination droid that was designed with a love of violence and hatred of anything living.
This is largely because even though he wants to kill almost everybody he sees, and says so, he cannot act on these desires without your orders.
HK-47 [after a harmless Jawa asks for the player's help]: Translation: 98% probability that members of the miniature organic’s tribe are being held by Sand People, master. Doubtless he wishes assistance. [There is also a] 2% probability that the miniature organic is simply looking for trouble and needs to be blasted. That may be wishful thinking on my part, master.
Sengoku Rance: Rance. The only thing saving him from being a Villain ProtagonistPlayed for Laughs is that the Big Bad is even worse (like raping his daughter and mutilating her at the same time, or having prepubescent Kouhime gangraped instead of just killing her) and, unlike Rance, has no redeeming qualities.
Mana-Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy has this in spades, especially when the game focuses on Ulrika's workshop. Special mention goes to Chloe, who loves to spam her curses incantations on people around her and is having fun watching how said incantations work (usually goes horribly right).
Team Fortress 2. You can say two very true things about the main cast: 1. They are all funny as hell. 2. They are all highly-paid mercenaries of questionable mental stability, hired to repeatedly kill their alter-egos on the other team (or lately, fight armies of killer robots).
The Scout trained himself to run faster just because so that he could get a head start on beating on people.
The Soldier (who never actually was in the army because no branch of the US military wanted the madman) is a jingoistic, nationalistic, homophobic, xenophobic, paranoid schizophreniac who in his youth went on a Nazi killing spree in Poland, starting in 1945 and ending in 1949... oh, and he collect severed heads of enemies and talks to them.
The Pyro can't really talk comprehensibly, but the fact that s/he still goes out to set people on fire when s/he's taken in enough smoke and asbestos that s/he can't talk through a breathing mask says enough. And as s/he is spreading fire and chaos, s/he sees it as spreading rainbows and happiness.
The Heavy Weapons Guy has built a bed for his minigun Sasha and gets paranoid and aggressive about people touching his weapon. He holds mock conversations with his sandvich (pretending that it urges him to kill people), and repeatedly calls the enemy team "babies". He is actually quite laid-back and friendly off the battlefield, but if he is angered he will rip people limb from limb with his bare hands.
The Engineer's motto is "use a gun, and if that don't work, use more gun!"
The RED team's Medic, while operating on the Heavy, jokes about a previous operation where he completely removed the patient's skeleton. Said operation cost him his medical license. He also keeps a flock of doves flying around in the surgery room, one of which (Archimedes) seems to enjoy roosting in human guts. He also kept the severed (but still alive) head of the enemy Spy in his fridge.
Medic: "Whoops. Zhat was not medicine. Zhat was doctor-assisted homicide."
The Sniper's Motto, "Be polite, be efficient, have a plan to kill everyone you meet." (which is a take on a motto out of The US Marinesm change "efficient" to "professional"). Also, he stores his piss in jars and throws it at people.
Sniper: "Boom, Headshot."
The Spy tends towards the repeat backstabbing part of things a bit too much and really enjoys screwing around with his victims more than he should.
Even the Engineer exhibits massive When All You Have Is a Hammer tendencies. The Sniper, interestingly, vociferously denies being a "crazed gunman" and insists on being called an assassin, arguing that the difference is "one's a job and the other's mental sickness!"
To be fair, nearly everyone in the Team Fortress 2 universe seems to be a sociopath.
The Administrator runs both teams, runs commentary on the violence and she clearly enjoys sending the teams to blow each other to bits with the goal of a perpetual stalemate, while the Respawn machine makes sure they cannot die permanently.
Administrator: Oh, I love this.
Her secretary, Miss Pauling, seems like a charming, mousy young woman in sensible shoes and glasses... until you see her executing a man in cold blood by luring him into an abadoned mine on the order of the Administrator, shooting him and then burying his corpse under quicklime.
Saxton Hale, CEO of Mann Corporation (who only appears in the TF2 comics), is a big burly bare-chested boisterous Australian who runs around beating people up, fire-bombs hippies, kills endangered wildlife with his bare hands, pushes around his employees, jumps out of flying airplanes (while beating up "evil-doers"), and in general is as self-centered as you can be. Also, he promotes his manly deeds by appearing as the titular character in self-published Saxton Hale comics he sells.
Redmond and Blutarch Mann, the insane and scheming twin brothers who ran the corporations that owned RED and BLU team, respectively, never cared for anyone but themselves. After inheriting their father's land together, they tried for 120 years to outlive each other (with the help of Mad Science), employing mercenaries to do the dirty work for them, making them true psychopaths who considered other people as mere tools. Even graverobbing wasn't below them. They finally met their end when they met their third twin-brother, Gray Mann, and his knife.
Sam & Max: Freelance Police is this trope taken to eleven, especially with Max. And he gets to be the president of the US for two seasons!
Max: Gratuitous acts of senseless violence are my forte.
The first game makes an extended joke out of Aperture Science's and GLaDOS' apparent total disregard for the sanity and well-being of their test subjects. It helps that you don't actually see all the other people that died horribly to bring things to their present state.
The sequel shows that Aperture Science was practically built on this, with CEO Cave Johnson being a lunatic with an obsession with pointless and dangerous experiments to the point that he nearly ran his company into the ground.
Cave Johnson: "Don't have any tumors? Well, unless you were wearing lead underpants when you sat on the chairs in our lobby, we took care of that too."
Wheatley makes a point of observing that the turrets that you've been disposing of so cavalierly throughout both games are programmed to be able to feel pain. (Worse, there's no reason to create a gun turret that feels pain.)
This is doubly disturbing when you consider several of the lines the turrets utter upon "death" such as "Whyyyyyyyy?!" and "I don't hate you." To say nothing when you start making them get rejected in Portal 2 ("Whee...OH NO!", "I did everything you ASKED...!").
In co-op, the player characters are robots so that when they die due to ineptitude or griefing, the deaths are funny rather than scary. It also helps that Death Is Cheap, due to the fact that, as a robot, they just make you a new body, reload your memories, and drop you back into the action. And when you finish a level, they just take you apart again or just blow you up where you stand, at the end of a testing series.
GLaDOS even references this trope: She says that Chell's messed up situation of being held captive and asleep for an unknown amount of time is humorous because,
GLaDOS: Comedy is tragedy plus time. So when you think about it, its actually pretty funny when you do the math.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has an Orc Dark Brotherhood member that recounts his murder of a five-year old if you talk to him before your first contract. While this sounds horrible, it's actually quite hilarious in the way that he recounts it.
Gogron gro-Bolmog: The great thing about killing a target up close and personal is you can talk to 'em before you do it! You know, say something scary! For example, this one time I had a contract to kill a little Nord girl at her birthday party. She asked me if I was the jester! So I said to her, "No, I am a messenger of death." You should have seen the look on her face! Ha ha ha ha! Anyway, she won't be seeing age six!
Handsome Jack: This is Handsome Jack, thanking you, loyal test subject for helping bring Pandora into the future. The experiments you'll be put through will help us uncover new uses for Eridium, new cures for medicine and- Seriously? *chuckles* Why are you having me read this crap? This is freaking hilarious. They know we're gonna mutate the hell out of 'em, why lie to 'em? *static*
In the stages of McPixel, McPixel's task is to make sure the bomb doesn't blow up, no one said anything about making sure bystanders don't get hurt or used as battering rams.
Poker Night at the Inventory, guest starring The Heavy from Team Fortress 2, has him gleefully regale his fellow players with the story of him finding an Engineer who had previously killed the Heavy's whole team, shoving the Engineer's wrench down the man's throat and ripping all his fingers off, while he laughs his head off through the whole story. Even Max the sociopathic bunny is squicked out.
Tsukihime has Arcueid doing this to the protagonist in spades, from her visiting his high school and attempting to get his attention by waving wildly in the middle of the grounds (and admitting that she was just about to jump directly up to the third floor window by his desk to talk to him during class) to her barging/sneaking into the Tohno Mansion on a regular basis to meet him (not a very wise thing to do, considering Akiha's jealously).
She does have some justification for this. Part of it is because she's naive enough to literally not understand what she's doing wrong, and part of it is because her mission (tracking down Roa) is just that important. While most examples of her bad behaviour from original visual novel (and corresponding manga/anime) can explained by naivety or desperation, later works portray her as genuine troll to everyone around her (including Shiki), just because she can.
The creepiest moment is probably when she considers breaking Shiki's glasses (something she knows would drive him insane) just because he was given them from another woman.
Fate/stay night has cases of this as well, such as when Saber seriously attempted to convince Shirou to let her go with him everywhere, including school, so she can protect him (note that she considers full body armor as casual dress).
Ironically, from what does happen, this actually would have been a good idea despite the stress it would have caused.
Shirou sometimes does this as well, as Issei 'did-you-just-tell-me-to-take-off-my-clothes?!' Ryudo can attest.
Belkar Bitterleaf of The Order of the Stick has both the archetype of the Heroic Comedic Sociopath and Comedic Sociopathy at the core of his character. There are too many examples of his behavior to chronicle here, but you don't have to read too far into the comic before he starts displaying his hilariously sadistic self full-tilt. In one recent arc, he force-fed a guard in a gladiatorial arena another man's internal organs, which had been neatly sliced out by his cat. Then he pulled them out the other end.
Nearly every character in 8-Bit Theater embodies this trope, either on the giving or receiving end. The main four characters have all been on the giving end at some point (well, except Fighter—he's a casualty).
Special mention must be made of the "Invasion of Dwarfland" arc, which is pretty much the best example of this trope in almost any media, giving such lines as:
"Their faces are being eaten by beard-shaped parasites!"
"Kill 'em all and let the flames sort them out!"
"Why everything I love is combustible!
and the ever-favorite
"Now you're just doing it to annoy me, you don't even have heat vision!"
The ironic aspect of this is that they're not merely sociopaths, who have no concept of morality or ethics, but are also incapable of any self-control, even when they stand to benefit. During one arc their only goal is to make a profit by doing "side-quests." This begins with attempting to work for a mob boss, who they soon overthrow; they then end trying to extort the police, but end up killing them; they try to extort the towns people, but end up killing them; and finally fail to even hold onto their power because Black Mage blows the whole town to hell.
Mike from Shortpacked! lives and breathes this trope. If it weren't for this and the fact that most of his stunts Cross The Line Twice, he would be the most heinous of villains. Instead he's one of the strip's most popular characters. See for yourself.
The Black Hat Guy of xkcd exemplifies this, as shown here.
Punintended's comics demonstrate this on occasion, as seen here. Vegetable and the banter between the authors makes one ask if the authors themselves are somewhat examples of this.
Fuzzy from Sam and Fuzzy could very well be the patron saint of this trope.
Most Let's Plays about games with a lot of violence or carnage get most of their humour from the player laughing like a maniac while slaughtering things needlessly. And quite a few games without a lot of violence or carnage too.
In this video one of the reviewers basically abandons the other in a pit full of metroids, and even taunts him "suck it in wuss!". Also this two part parody is entirely made of this trope.
The DesuDesBrigade especially Vixen and Mal, but notably in the Christmas Special. Tentacle Violations for all!
More or less the premise of the first five seasons of Red vs. Blue. Wyoming shooting a captive? Cruel. Caboose blowing Church up with a tank? Hilarious. The Beaver Creek Reds and Blues slaughtering each other in a parody of the video game the show is set in? One of the best episodes. Pelican crushes Donut? Lulz ensue. Donut stuck by Tex? Still a meme a decade later.
Thorn: "I'm gonna sit here and laugh at you! Ha! Ha-ha!"
Travis: "So tell me how you feel, 'cause I don't care!"
The entire Sleeping DogsLet's Play is this. Travis causes more than a ridiculous amount of pain, murder and destruction to the citizens of Hong Kong (innocent and otherwise), and the trio spend the whole time cracking up over it.
Red Letter Media is fond of this trope. Mr. Plinkett is a serial killer who reviews movies in great detail, and Jay and Mike from Half in the Bag only seem to care about making money, and barely know what "guilt" is. This is all Played for Laughs.
Chonny from yourchonny is often a victim of this in his skits, courtesy of the parents that he is portraying.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force deserves a lifetime achievement award for this trope. While we expect Carl to suffer his end of abuse, it gets really irritating when even Frylock exhibits this behavior towards Meatwad.
The first couple episodes of Twelve Ounce Mouse are all about this. Less so in later episodes, though still plenty present. Considering some of Shark's comments about a Show Within a Show later in the series, Mouse's initial behavior may be a deliberate Deconstruction.
In the Beach Episode, Zuko, Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee dabble in a little of it themselves at the end by barging in on a party that was terrible and destroying the building with a combination of firebending and acrobatics.
99% of the time Goofy in Goof Troop is completely oblivious to how much destruction and pain his clumsiness inflicts, especially to his neighbor Pete.
Of the central characters on Futurama, perhaps only Bender really qualifies as a true sociopath. Nevertheless, the characters all show tremendous disregard for each other's feelings. And everyone's sociopathic for Zoidberg.
Zapp Brannigan is utterly selfish and narcissistic, and not even in an endearing way like Bender.
Practically everyone in Family Guy, Peter most prominently.
Lois may be a more notable example if only for her rather contrasting persona compared to Jerkass Peter; she still seems to be established as the caring and intelligent housewife of the family, though depending on the gag, can switch between nurturing and loving her kids endlessly or being as abusive and neglectful to them as Peter.
Needless to say, nearly all of Meg's treatment in later seasons leans towards this trope.
Although many characters in South Park fit this trope, the most obvious example would have to be Cartman, who freely manipulates and uses everybody around him according to whichever whim has him at the moment. As an example: In the episode "Ginger Kids", Cartman freely advocates denying all ginger kids basic human rights. After Stan and Kyle conspire to turn Cartman into a ginger with makeup, convinced that it is the only way he'll learn fairness, Cartman proceeds to instantly convert to the ginger cause and quickly advocates the total genocide of all non-gingers, especially the gingers who are "faking it" with make up.
He was upset with that after learning that was his father... making him half-ginger.
Butters and Pip are frequent victims of Comedic Sociopathy; you would expect a Jerkass like Cartman to exploit or bully the unfortunate souls, but be less expectant of Stan and Kyle (and sometimes even Chef) acting as Manipulative Bastards around them (anti-bigoted Kyle even went into long winded rant at 'Frenchy little frog' Pip that earned him a broken nose). In later episodes this treatment toned down slightly with closer to Earth characters acting more sympathetic towards Butters and Pip being put Out of Focus until he was squashed by Mecha-Streisand.
Everyone: Shut up Pip!
If it weren't for Amusing Injuries, Eddy's Brother from Ed, Edd n Eddy would step over from this to just plain sociopath, though it stopped being amusing due to how far his brother took the abuse and how it's implied he's been abusing his brother since he was a kid.
The Henry and June wraparounds on KaBlam!. It's about a slightly ditzy ten-year-old boy and his Jerkass admirer/best friend who LOVES beating this kid up. On top of that, he's constantly beat up by a sasquatch. He needs so much hugging. Most likely enforced, it is a comedy.
Itchy And Scratchy in fact based itself more on the Herman And Katnip series, which takes the cat and mouse formula and rises the slapstick violence Up to Eleven.
In one of Cartoon Network's What A Cartoon! Show shorts, an old man drags his two grandkids away from a video game to tell them a rambling, nonsensical story about the time he defeated the aliens. Near the end, he starts trailing off; after a worried second, the girl asks if he's dead, and her brother responds that no, he just turned down Gramps' oxygen. Then they go off and play the video game while their grandfather slumbers away with the very real possibility that he'll suffocate because the selfish little brats wanted to play a game.
American Dad! is ALL ABOUT this trope. Every one of the main characters exhibits this at multiple points.
Gaz in Invader Zim is something of a Comedic Sociopath. The entire show is essentially this.
Louise from Bob's Burgers definitely qualifies. In the first episode alone, she convinces the town that their restaurant uses human flesh in their burgers and at the point where Bob is close to defusing the situation, convinces the crowd to turn on him.
Everyone on Archer, but Archer and Lana deserve special mention.
Sponge Bob Square Pants became this after the movie. All characters have had shades of this (excluding Sandy), especially Mr. Krabs; after his marked Flanderization following the movie, he's actually a Comedic Sociopath, insensitive and immoral, arguably the kid's show equivalent of Cartman. Even to the extent that gets to have very disturbing moments, including "One Coarse Meal", where he nearly drives Plankton to suicide.
And in fact, the most frequent victims of Comedic Sociopathy are Squidward, Plankton and Gary, who are often injured or humiliated by most other characters.
Almost everything that the Blue Beetle AI says in Young Justice is an insanely violent overreaction to the current situation.
Law students in the US and elsewhere relying on the casebook method study from actual judicial decisions in real cases that appeared in a court somewhere. As a result, a law student will read all manner of incredibly bad behavior, much of which comes across as cartoonishly and hilariously terrible to uninvolved parties. A few notable examples:
A case about a big casino that pretty much tells a mom-and-pop frozen yogurt franchisee to stop their current operations so they can move their store to an open space in the casino, and then decides "naah, we'll have this giant corporation do the exact same thing instead."
The almost-as-famous case of Mills v. Wyman, in which Mills, out of the goodness of his heart, helps Wyman's son during his final illness and is promised payment by the father afterwards...and then Wyman says, nah, never mind. The court's opinion is so obviously barely containing outrage at Wyman's douchebaggery (and more or less apologizing to the world that it has to find in his favor) that is extremely entertaining to modern readers.
Professions that involve seeing or dealing with death and grievous bodily injury (the military, and emergency medical technicians, for instance) often have traditions of black comedy that basically depend on this trope, Crosses the Line Twice, or both.
The intention of this is not to mock or make fun of, but to stave off the normal feelings which can be more harmful than helpful. A person overcome with empathy or shock on seeing a horrible bodily injury may not be able to immediately think clearly enough to do the immediate required medical treatment. Crews retrieving a body from deep in the wilderness or in a cave keep themselves in a better state w by talking to it and cracking jokes because the job they have really is depressing, and to be depressed would make their important job (getting the body back so the family can have closure) harder. Cracking jokes helps the person keep a level, focused head.
The etymology of the term "Howler" for an Epic Fail emerges from this: a mistake fit to make one howl with laughter. Even if the one who commits the blunder and the one who laughs are both the same person.