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Cool Loser
"Peter Parker was just an attractive, intelligent, likable, athletic, well-dressed teenage loser."

Similar to Hollywood Homely and Hollywood Dateless, and a very frequent protagonist of High School shows, this is when a character who is smart, funny, fashionable and good looking is portrayed as being much less popular than they would be in real life. Done deliberately to limit the circle of friends/cast as much as possible, thereby erasing the hassle of writing multiple, varying characterizations, while at the same time making the main character likable to the viewer. If this character is female, she is frequently a target of the Alpha Bitch. If is male, he is often the target of the Jerk Jock and/or The Bully.

Unlike people who are Hollywood Homely, Cool Losers are not supposed to be considered unattractive, and unlike the Hollywood Nerd, the Cool Loser is not a geek or lacking in social skills. They just don't have many friends, don't get invited to the cool parties, and are generally treated like losers by most of their peers.

This often leads up to a big payoff, when the Cool Loser is briefly given a moment when they realize that more people do, in fact, like them more than they thought (usually when they are unexpectedly honoured at some manner of ceremony, such as a graduation). It's not explained why those honouring didn't demonstrate this in some way earlier (the few times it is, it's often explained as the rest of the student body fearing the Alpha Bitch, Jerk Jock, or other Big Man on Campus so much, they didn't want to befriend the Cool Loser and become a target of their fury,) but it often comes in the form of a sweet gesture.

A very common signal of the cool loser will often involve being a member of the school paper (Sabrina Spellman, Chloe Sullivan, etc.) This is often seen as a gray area, doesn't carry the obvious negative "nerd" connotations of the Chess Club or the Mathletes, but also isn't seen as "cool" as sports teams or cheerleading.

Often overlaps with This Loser Is You. See also Hollywood Nerd. An Informed Loner is basically this, except they supposedly don't even want friends.

A bit of Truth in Television especially for females. An attractive female can still be the target of other jealous females or disgruntled ex-boyfriends often to tragic results.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Minako in Sailor Moon seems to be a victim of this; unlike the other girls she lacks any other obvious traits that would make her unpopular. It's likely The Artifact from working solo in her own manga to being retrofitted into the new storyline, as she originally started out as an admiration object turned comedically Broken Pedestal.
  • Eikichi Onizuka of Great Teacher Onizuka is pretty cool and a pretty big loser at the same time. He used to be in a gang, he rides a motorcylce, he breaks things... but he's never had a girlfriend, cosplays during class, and is so broke he doesn't even know who's on the 10,000 yen bill.
  • Ja Wangnan from Tower of God. Pretty cocky, pisses others off with ease, constantly fails the trials and has racked up such a debt that he wagered his vital organs on passing the next test. Still, this guy gets a few Crowning Moments of Awesome.
  • Taikoubou from Houshin Engi. He's an adorable, hilarious, good-hearted, young-looking immortal that's insanely smart, and manages to come up with genius tactics to save the day. Yet absolutely no halfway decent women have any romantic interest in him throughout the entire series... save for a hideous Gonk that disgusts everyone (including and especially him). Sure, he's an asexual Celibate Hero that has no interest in romance... but it's not like he's always announcing it and letting everyone know, and there's no real reason why no one is interested in him.
  • Joey Wheeler after his Heel-Face Turn in Yu-Gi-Oh!. He's fairly attractive, friendly, and a pretty Badass duelist, and yet is constantly the target of bullying and mean-spirited jokes from professional duelists and arc enemies, Kaiba, and even (until his Heel-Face Turn) Tristan/Honda.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger is pretty much HeroTV's designated Butt Monkey despite being a handsome, selfless, funny, and deceptively competent superhero with impressive physical abilities both powered and unpowered.
  • Medaka Box: Despite being the childhood friend of the very popular titular character, Zenkichi Hitoyoshi is generally acknowledged as just that, despite being friendly, sociable, and willing to help others. This is contrasted with Akune, the Prince of Judo.
  • Toru Mizushima from Iris Zero manga. He is quite handsome, very smart and good-hearted, yet is constantly mistreated due to his Iris Zero status. You'd think that his ability to figure things out despite not having Iris would impress people, rather than make him target for bullies. It may be justified by his “Minimal Exposure” policy, which means he tries to stand out as little as possible.

     Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker is (to the reader) a handsome, highly intelligent, funny guy who used to be Happily Married to a stunning red-haired supermodel, and now is a relatively successful freelance photographer (he was retconned to have won a pulitzer for his picture taking skills). In real life, he'd be amazingly popular. In Marvel Universe Manhattan, though, he's all but completely ostracized from his peers because...well...he's Peter Parker. Though it's more true in adaptations like Ultimate Spider-Man and the various animated series; in the original comics, he was only really ostracized when he was a teenager, and during that time he was a very shy kid prone to glaring angrily at the In-Crowd while muttering how they'll all learn one day. Once he grew up and actually became handsome and funny, did he get friends. It's only after One More Day that he became this, when it removed his marriage, his career, and his social skills and had everyone treat him like crap for no apparent reason. Then it's changed by the new Big Time era, complete with his alter ego Spider-Man beginning to become a trusted and respected hero amongst New York.
  • In the X-Men: Evolution tie in comics, written by Devin Grayson, in that twice people refer to the Xavier kids as freaks or make a deal about how 'weird' they are...despite the fact that Jean is shown to be VERY popular in the actual TV series, and Scott and Kurt, while not shown as particularly popular, are shown to be very good at making girls dig them. While it's once mentioned that Jean is considered 'Ok', and someone makes reference to having a crush on Scott, it really comes off as weird that it's made into a minor plot point despite it never coming up in the series... until The Reveal, but the comics are based before that happening.
  • Momses from Minimonsters is considered as the most handsome guy in Frank's gang, and it's considered loser only by Morty's gang... Who they're much more losers than them.

    Film 
  • A Cinderella Story. You're telling us Hilary Duff is the school outcast?
  • In John Tucker Must Die, Brittany Snow is a complete outcast, despite being stereotypically pretty (although in Hairspray, she plays the Alpha Bitch) ...Not that that's the only thing wrong with this movie.
  • Justified in Mean Girls - Janis Ian is good looking, smart and funny but her reputation was destroyed by a rumor and she now willingly embraces outsiderdom. (Also averted by the protagonist Cady who quickly becomes popular and powerful to the point that she can become the new Alpha Bitch). Producers were actually reluctant to cast Lizzy Kaplan as Janis because they thought she was too pretty for the role. They settled by giving her a goth/alternative look that would justify the popular girls avoiding her.
  • In Back to the Future, Marty McFly is an Adorkable guitarist played by Michael J. Fox. Possibly justified in that the loser nature of his family and his friendship with the town outcast might tend to drag him down the social ladder a bit. Though the only person who's shown to consider him a loser is his asshole principal, who seems to think this about everyone.
  • An adult example: Jim Carrey's character in Bruce Almighty is allegedly a loser... even though he works as a TV reporter and his girlfriend is played by Jennifer Aniston. Played with in that one of the film's key themes is how unappreciative he is when he actually has a good life - he sees himself as a loser, but hardly anyone else does.
  • In Rebel Without a Cause, our hero is an alienated High School outcast. He's played by James Dean.
  • Michael Cera and Jonah Hill's characters in Superbad. An attractive girl clearly has the hots for Cera's character, and they're both invited to the hip party at the end, yet they're under the impression that they need to bring a ton of booze for any of the girls to get with them.
    • It's implied that many students do like Evan (Cera's character), but don't hang out with him because of Seth (Hill), who is considered by people to be an immature Jerk Ass.
  • The Trotsky has a classic instance similar to the Mean Girls example above: Leon's two friends in the student union who become his main supporters are a gay guy and an alternative-looking girl who are first shown smoking pot together. They are clearly unpopular despite being shown to be intelligent, driven, and funny by the end of the movie. Leon himself may also qualify, but this is justified in that his insane obsession with his namesake would understandably make him an outsider.
  • Amit from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, attractive, lovely... makes no sense.
  • Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. Yes, Molly Ringwald is the poverty-stricken outsider picked on by the cool kids for being poor. Okay, then. Although in The Breakfast Club,she plays as a rich,popular girl.
  • Ho's Rohit Patil, who happens to be the rich and good - looking (as well as funny and sensitive), is introduced as unsuccessfully flirting with three different woman
  • Morris "Mud" Himmel in Camp Nowhere, though most of it was because of his lack of self-confidence.

    Literature 
  • J. K. Rowling even makes a few stabs at this in the Harry Potter series.
    • Harry's famous, a pretty nice guy, and is regarded as a hero. Yet in Chamber of Secrets he's ostracized because he can talk to snakes, in Goblet of Fire he's ostracized for entering the Triwizard contest ("Harry is a cheating cheater!"), and in the next book he's looked down on because he's the only one who notices there's a frickin' war going on. In the sixth book, he does become hugely popular, but finds it annoying.
    • Ron. By the age of 13, he's helped Harry defeat Voldemort (in one form or another) twice, and has been given an award for special services to the school. He's a Deadpan Snarker who's best friends with the Chosen One, his brothers are all ultra-cool (Except for Percy. Nothing can make him cool), and it's implied that he's at least moderately attractive. While he isn't a straight-A student, he's not described as stupid by any measure. And he fights a bunch of adult Death Eaters, and becomes star player in a cup-winning House Quidditch team. He's still not treated as particularly cool though. Apart from Harry, Ron should be the most popular kid in school among everyone but the Slytherins. Explained by Hermione in Goblet of Fire that Ron gets pushed off to one side in favour of Harry because of Harry's fame. Besides the other students in their year who have classes with them and some friends of Ginny's, no one spends enough time with Harry or Ron to realise that Ron is cool, too - they're just in awe of Harry. His family is another problem. As mentioned above, all of his older brothers are ultra-cool, but Ron can't (or at least, feels like he can't) ever live up to them or find a particular skill that sets him apart. Even some of the things that make him "cool," like Quidditch, are things his brothers were already well-known for before him. Throw in that his other best friend is a verifiable genius and he's just generally Overshadowed by Awesome.
  • Perry Mason. His only admirer is his secretary, Della Street. This one especially boggles the mind, considering that he's an incredibly rich, handsome, powerful, world famous lawyer that is well known for being on the side of justice. He has hundreds of attractive, young female clients, who go through life and death situations with him, where he's always there to comfort and save them in their time of need. Yet none of them ever fall for him. If they flirt with him, it's always because they're just trying to manipulate or trick him. Apparently, no woman during those days wanted to chase and marry an insanely rich, prominent lawyer.
  • The Eerie Indiana books attempt to justify this: the charming but unpopular town bum, liked only by the main characters, used to be the mayor before he irritated a witch.
  • In Maggie Furey's Shadowleague books, it's mentioned that Kazairl and Veldan were seen as this when they were young in Gendival.
  • The entire main cast of Stuck, Tre, Allie, Nora and Max being the largest examples.
  • Before I Fall:
    • Kent Mc Fuller. He is one of the few people who isn't in awe of the popular girls and can see the titular character Sam for who she really is underneath. He seems a lot happier then the popular kids and is well-liked enough to throw his Wild Teen Party that becomes an important event in the book.
    • There are hints Sam's little sister Izzy will grow up to be like this - she refuses to go to speech therapy for her lisp, even though the other kids laugh at her and dresses rather oddly.
  • Francis from The Traitor Game, possibly as a result of being friends with Michael.
  • The book Teen Idol puts this trope under a microscope, almost to the point of Deconstruction. Main character Jenny is nice, smart, well-liked and a beautiful in a Girl Next Door-type of way but is not a member of the popular, Beautiful Elite. The book is all about her realizing that just because she's not in the popular crowd or the Alpha Bitch doesn't mean she's not popular. In fact, she's so well-liked by everyone that she's actually the most popular girl in school and has way more power than the Jerk Jock or the Alpha Bitch
  • In Twilight, Bella Swan is an inversion. She's socially awkward, clumsy and generally uncool, but everyone warms up to her the minute she gets to town and soon enough she has her own little circle of friends.
  • Janiine Farehouse of Dinoverse is a fairly severe version of this. Bullies hate her - she's poor in a rich school, has her own fashion sense, and seems to be completely unaffected by anything they say or do. Actually, she intimidates them. And everyone else, including the people who like her. Between the intimidation factor and other kids not wanting to get on the bad side of the Alpha Bitch, she has no friends at all, but is admired by many, including the bullies. They sense that she has integrity.
  • In the Origami Yoda series, Dwight is socially inept, but has his own circle of friends who adore him.

    Live Action TV 
  • Ned and Moze in Neds Declassified School Survival Guide. Averted with their friend Cookie who is an Extraverted Nerd.
  • Completely parodied in an episode of Seinfeld, wherein Jerry dates a girl who seems to be perfect (smart, attractive, funny, friendly) but is ostracized by her own friends. Later, even Kramer and George sit Jerry down to tell him he can do better (heavily implying there is something very wrong with this girl), despite her obvious positive and desirable attributes. Everyone but Jerry seems able to tell this girl is a super loser in some way (which they never clarify), so he puts her to the ultimate test, meeting his parents. They love her and he immediately begins to think poorly of her as a result. What exactly people were seeing wrong with her is never explained.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy, although she was initially accepted by the in-crowd before her weird behavior, such as accidentally pulling a stake on Cordelia, led them to disowning her. In the end, she only really had two friends at school - Xander and Willow. In "The Prom", however, Buffy receives a special Class Protector award for saving the other students' lives on a regular basis.
    • Xander is attractive, friendly and funny, but has no friends except Willow and Buffy and everyone looks down on him because he lacks any shred of confidence in himself (he gets better). Only the science geeks are lower on the social ladder.
  • Sabrina in Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Despite being an attractive do-gooder and a model student, she was treated with contempt by both Libby and Vice-Principal Kraft. Libby at least might have seen Sabrina as a threat to her own popularity, but Kraft... well some people are just jerks. That and he dated her aunt. Aside from just plain being evil, Libby hated Sabrina because she was jealous of her. She tried many times to steal Sabrina's boyfriend, Harvey, and practically leaped for joy every time there was a chance that Sabrina didn't get a perfect grade. In the episode "When Teens Collide" after Sabrina and Libby switch personalities, a couple of popular cheerleaders explain to Sabrina that while everyone likes Sabrina for being nice, smart and pretty, Libby is popular because everyone fears her.
  • Samantha from Popular: Despite being gorgeous and smart, she was unpopular. A snarky recapper on Television Without Pity actually pointed out that for all her supposed outsiderness Sam generally had more stylized hairstyles and make up than the actually popular Brooke, who looked like she just ran a comb through her hair every morning.
  • The O.C.
    • Seth Cohen is clearly an attractive, talented, funny and ridiculously rich young man, yet he couldn't get a date for most of his life, despite living in a town full of golddiggers, and was constantly being beaten up by jocks. Not only this, unlike the majority of examples on this list, he apparently had no friends at all prior the arrival of Ryan. It's implied that Seth would probably be popular if he lived anywhere besides Orange County. This is particularly obvious when he briefly moves to Portland, and apparently has no trouble making friends. It's just that he's surrounded by people who are pompous and shallow. There is also a suggestion that he can be slightly self-centered and petty despite himself sometimes.
    • Taylor Townsend, a stunning, whip smart, witty young lady who is so unpopular she is reduced to following around Seth (and Summer) for want of a friend.
  • Veronica Mars:
    • The lead character is witty, attractive, fashionable and generally benevolent. Veronica's unpopularity is ostensibly due to her father's insistence that local hero Jake Kane was a murderer. It wasn't until later on, when she becomes more than a little infamous for her ability to figure things out, that she regained some respect — her 10-Minute Retirement at the beginning of the second season proves that. Once again, Buffy-style, at the end of the second season, she's given a minor ovation from her classmates as she accepts her diploma. In Veronica's case, it's arguably on purpose. She's pissed at them for essentially abandoning her when she needed her friends the most. The ones she eventually forgives are generally the ones who had their own issues regarding Lily's death (Logan and Duncan are pretty much the list). The theme song was well-chosen.
    • Wallace Fennel, Veronica's best friend is also an example of this. He's at best marginally popular, despite being the star on the basketball team, very nice, funny and dating the super hot daughter of a baseball legend. In Wallace's case, it's at least partly intentional. As he said, he'd rather hangout with the chick who cut him down when duct-taped to the flag pole than the people who just stood and laughed at him.
  • Dawson's Creek: Almost all of the attractive major characters are depicted as being stereotypically uncool, particularly the beautiful and intelligent Joey.
  • Smallville:
    • Clark Kent played by an underwear model, became a football hero, occasionally works at school newspaper, and is friends with the multi-billionaire Lex Luthor (who himself is popular), yet is still viewed as a loser. This also extends to Chloe Sullivan who, despite being a very attractive blonde, head of the school newspaper, and sporting enough popularity to become Prom Queen, is still looked down upon by the Alpha Bitches. This is probably due to the Wall of Weird and frequently exposing liked people. Except that Clark was never stated to be unpopular, he just prefers to keep a lower profile than many. In the first season Pete even mentions his popularity as a reason why he would be good as class president.
    • Chloe is a subversion and she gets a bit of what's due to her when Jonathan Taylor Thomas' character refers to her and Lana equally as "the two hottest, smartest girls in school". In the Prom episode, it's revealed that Chloe is actually a lot more popular than she realizes. It turns out that although Chloe is well-liked, the resident Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse hate Chloe's guts because of the fact that Chloe holds their social structure in contempt and arguably because Chloe's reporting work at the newspaper (which they seem to really despise) resulted in several members of the popular clique being jailed or institutionalized ever since Season 1, and they refer to Chloe's paper as a "geek rag." Meanwhile, when Clark secretly nominates Chloe to be Prom Queen, it turns out the Silent Majority of Smallville High students had secretly been rooting for Chloe as sort of a hero to the outcasts of the school. Indeed, Clark actually says "Everyone's been trying to break out of the stereotypes that they've been forced into...and you're the rallying cry."
  • Freddie on iCarly gets this, whilst Carly does not. Sam appears to be feared more than respected, so is similar to Carly, but in a different way.
  • Miley's alter-ego on Hannah Montana, and her best friend Lilly. Both are self-professed "losers", even though they have the social skills and good looks to be popular (and, in fact, in an "alternate timeline" episode where Miley never met her, Lilly has become the school's Alpha Bitch). One can only assume that Miley is purposefully pretending to be mediocre in an effort to better disguise her pop-star persona. When she is being Hannah Montana, she has a robust social life and frequently attends large parties. This still doesn't explain Lilly, though. (On the other hand, the third part of their trio, Oliver, is the epitome of social awkwardness... perhaps hanging out with him is enough of a social blight to bring Miley and Lilly to the bottom.)
  • Claire's friend Zach on Heroes. Justified in that the student body seemed to regard him as homosexual, and this was a bunch of high school students we're talking about.
  • Lizzie McGuire and her friends are considered losers. Roger Ebert makes a crack at this trope's expense, wonder how a girl whose smile "shines brighter than all the stars in the sky" could be unpopular.
  • Julie from Sorority Forever. This may be justified by the fact that Bridget, the head of Phi Chi Kappa, takes a disliking to her for her rebellious and inquisitive tendancies.
  • Boy Meets World's Cory Matthews. This guy lives and breathes this trope.
  • Kerry from 8 Simple Rules is intelligent, artistic and attractive - a bit snarky perhaps, but for some, that's part of the charm. Still, she's generally portrayed as less desirable than her older sister Bridget. Justified in the first season because she's moody and condescending as well as being a little bitchy. She actually becomes more popular than her sister at the start of season 2.
  • Played with in Wizards of Waverly Place in that Alex seems to deliberately seek out this status.
  • In fact, it seems to be a staple of Disney Channel original movies, glaringly so in Alley Cats Strike, wherein the otherwise cool captain of the school bowling club is regarded as some sort of misfit outcast (that is, until the movie's main events kick into gear).
  • This is Glee. Everyone in the Glee Club is automatically unpopular for being part of it, even though three of them are cheerleaders, several of them are on the football team, and the rest are just pretty friendly. They just seem pretty fun and cool and yet everyone seems to dislike them. They'd probably be popular in any other high school!
    • As of season two the entire club is/has been on the cheerleading/football team or dating somebody who is. Logically, these are the most popular people in school. It makes the whole "We're all misfits!!" thing hard to swallow.
    • In the episode "Original Song," the Glee club, minus Rachel, write a Cool Loser anthem for New Directions appropriately called "Loser Like Me."
    • Then again, it's mentioned for Rachel specifically that she's so insanely annoying that she's an outcast. Kurt's the Camp Gay in a small conservative town in Ohio, Tina goes out of her way to avoid people, and Artie's in a wheelchair which he even admits puts a lot of people off.
      • Which explains those four. The rest of the club are perfectly relatable and unrealistically good looking.
    • On two occasions, they have elicited practically a cheering riot from the assemblies they perform at. Yet no one except hecklers show up to the concert that they put together in "A Night Of Neglect."
    • In one episode, the entire football team temporarily joins the Glee club, only to have the hockey team throw slushies at them.
  • Lance Stone from Dark Oracle although this is at least partially deliberate on his own part. He's capable of being socially functional, but his interests in role-play and video gaming, combined with an antisocial streak and the fact that his girlfriend, Sage is one of the most picked on girls in the school keep him pretty isolated.
  • Mia Jones from Degrassi is the would-be spicy cheerleader but being a teen mother stands in the way until she becomes a model.
  • Jenna Hamilton on Awkward.. The whole series could be summed up as a Cool Loser realizing how cool she actually is.
  • Chuck Bartowski of Chuck would definitely fall under this trope. He's a good-looking, smart, funny, and kind-hearted guy. Casey even describes Chuck as a "social butterfly" in one episode, he's definitely one of the most socially-functional main characters and is the real power at the Buy More (to where even Big Mike relies on him to get things done and no one listens to other managers like Harry and, briefly, Lester) until Morgan finally starts stepping up in Seasons 2 and 3. Yet he's been mired in a personal and professional slump and unable (or unwilling) to bounce back ever since getting kicked out of Stanford on false charges and dumped by Jill. To the point where he doesn't believe a woman like Sarah would genuinely be attracted to him. Of course it doesn't help that Chuck is frequently Overshadowed by Awesome—no really, that's what they actually call his sister's boyfriend Devon—and professional spies like Bryce, Cole and Shaw.
    • Morgan himself. After Chuck must devote more of his life to the spy game, it's Morgan who keeps the Buy More running smoothly, first as assistant manager then as manager. He has the very cute Anna Wu as a girlfriend for most of seasons 1 and 2, then even manages to bag Carina by the third season, to the point she's infatuated with him in season four. He also develops a solid romantic relationship with Casey's quite beautiful daughter Alex, has Bo Derek gunning for him in season 5 (though it's largely because he has the Intersect and is a respected member of Team Bartowski. You wouldn't think it because of the way his coworkers talk down to him or outright revolt against his authority as assistant manager/manager.
  • The X-Files gives us Fox Mulder. On the one hand, a Tall, Dark and Snarky Oxford-educated FBI agent. On the other, a basement-dwelling conspiracy theorist with a porn habit. This manages to average out into Cool Loser.

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes is a ranked assassin with a Laser Blade, a really Cool Bike, and a bone to pick with nine of the most dangerous people in Santa Destroy/"California"/America. He's also an unemployed, foul-talking otaku who, even at the top of his killing game, commands the respect of roughly no one.
    • He fits the trope (jobless, only one friend), but the only opponent of his that outright disrespects him is Destroyman, for reasons not related to his social status. Most of the blatant disrespect that we see comes from Silvia and Naomi, the former of which is more than just kind of a bitch to begin with (with tones of the Alpha Bitch) and the latter of which a bit of a grouch and Cool Loser in her own right.
    • Totally subverted in the sequel: in which he's very well respected by basically everybody, to the point of idolizing. He even gets a couple of fangirls.

    Web Comics 
  • Jodie from Loserz. Sexy, a good artist, funny, but most people except the protagonists only want to have sex with her, or actively hate her. Of course, the girls mostly hate her because she sleeps with their boyfriends...
  • Mike Cosley from Bardsworth was one of these in high school. When he gets to college (magical college, at that), he's not as actively mocked as he was, but he isn't exactly Mr. Popularity.
  • Nedroid: Everyone, especially the main character Reginald.

    Web Original 
  • All of Team Kimba (the protagonists) in the Whateley Universe, even though the group contains some of the hottest girls(-ish) on the entire campus. One of them is regarded as possibly the hottest girl on the planet (she's part Sidhe and has a Faerie glamour). They live in the dorm that's regarded as the campus loonybin (it's not). Before their mutant manifestations, many of them were 'losers' for one reason or another. Part of their isolation is that they seem to live up to the dorm's reputation, particularly Generator and Shroud. Tennyo has the stigma of being a Section 33 (fighting her is an automatic expulsion for anyone involved), so people are afraid of her. The group as a whole attacked the Alphas (who are supposed to be the best, most popular kids on campus)for no apparent reason early in their first term, and they're the only non-Hawthorne students who actually enjoy going over to Hawthorne to visit the students there.
  • Powered Armor wielding heroine Diamond from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe is this. When in high school and college she was considered a bit of a dweeb, was never invited to parties, had no friends except among her fellow chess-club geeks. She was hated by her fellow students because she blew the grading curve simply by walking into the room, and was hated by her teachers because she frequently proved to be smarter and better informed than they were. Even now that she's all grown up, her superhero persona is massively more popular than her civilian identity, who is still seen as a boring, socially awkward, and unattractive nerd despite being a billionaire inventor and philanthropist. Oh, and did we mention that she's physically modeled on actress/mathematician Danica McKellar

    Western Animation 
  • Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible is certainly one of these. He's not stupid, he's not a klutz, and he doesn't lack in social skills. He's often confident and he knows how to pick up the ladies. (They just reject him anyway). In addition, he's just as much a hero as Kim. The problem is possibly that he's a rather lanky, which makes him look younger than he is (until he gets his great new hairstyle) and extremely dorky. At least until season 4.
    • Kim is an interesting example. On the one hand, she's the insanely popular captain of the cheerleader squad, a model student and involved in a ton of extra-curricular activities; she's attractive and fashionable, yet she seems to be oddly shunned by the popular people Bonnie surrounds herself with.
  • A staple for Butch Hartman's protagonists:
    • Timmy Turner of The Fairly Oddparents starts out as a loser but eventually manages to gain quite a status in the eyes of his peers as the series progressed, unfortunately turning him into an inflated Jerkass. Granted he does temporarily degrade back into a Cool Loser whenever the plot or humour calls for it.
    • In Danny Phantom, while Tucker and Sam fit the bill, Danny seems to be bigger loser than both put together for no other reason than the sake of it. That and to allot for a lot of scenes with the Jerk Jock/school bully. His parents' reputation as loony ghost hunters may have something to do with it, initially, but that excuse goes right out the window as soon as ghosts become a genuine threat to the town.
      • Even with the ghost threat, they're still loony.
    • In the never-picked-up Crash Nebula, the main protagonist is just as surprised as the viewer when he is informed of his immediate loser status.
  • Arthur from Shrek The Third seems fairly normal, maybe a bit introverted, but he's picked on by everyone, including the stereotypical DnD nerds.
  • Being an aversion of This Loser Is You, the writers of Static Shock indirectly but clearly illustrate that the only reason Virgil only had about two or so friends at a time was because they were too lazy to make any more.
    • In "They're Playing My Song", Richie and another African-American kid were laughing together at Virgil while he was working at Burger Fool. Maybe he's another friend of Virgil, Richie, and Frieda.
    • Of course, there's the fact that Virgil's secret crimefighting life puts a fairly huge dent in his free time. Given that, it's probably justified that he'd only be able to hang out with his closest friends (one of whom is in on the secret and joins him as a Bang Baby hero later.)
  • Optimus Prime suffers from this in Transformers Animated. While on Earth he's viewed as amazingly cool and a hero, on Cybertron he's a loser and a nobody - his only defining feature there being that he's in charge of other losers, dropouts and failures. This does nothing for his self-esteem. The only other Autobots who even seem to know what Optimus and co. have been up to either think it's best to keep the whole issue of Earth in the background (Ultra Magnus) or hate his guts (Sentinel Prime). Even if word did get out, who would believe that a nobody commander in charge of a maintenance crew went up against Megatron and not only lived, but won? TWICE? The end of the season finale does have the team return to Cybertron, and upon leaving their ship are hailed as heroes and cheered by a huge crowd, so apparently word has gotten out.
  • On Teen Titans Beast Boy is a superhero who's helped save the city hundreds of times, but whenever we see him interacting with anyone who's not a Teen Titan, he gets treated like crap. Of course, people in the Teen Titans universe seem pretty blase about the whole superhero thing in general, since the Titans can go to a pizzeria in full costume and no one bats an eye.
  • Noah on Total Drama seems to be an inversion: he's a Teen Genius, Ambiguously Gay Deadpan Snarker, all of which could theoretically make him treated like a loser, but his official bio and entry video show that he's class president and seems to be popular at his school, in part because he's smart enough to get on people's good side.
  • Daria: Lawndale High in general seems to operate on an odd version of this trope (possibly even an Inversion): everybody has their proscribed social niche (Daria and Jane being loner outcasts) which are thought of as being rigid, but actually get ignored pretty easily. For example, popular kids like Brittany and Kevin associate with her all the time and are almost always nice (unless they insult them by accident), but would balk at actually calling them "friends."
  • In Beast Wars, Depth Charge treats the Maximals, especially Optimus Primal, as if they were this before they got sucked into a time hole to kick off the series. This comes despite Primal outranking Depth Charge and having more known friends, and not just because Rampage killed all Depth Charge's friends. Jerkass may have a point though, as the mission that the Autobots were on was treated as a low level one anyway (to hide its true purpose of abandoning the immortal Rampage on a barren planet where he could do no harm.
  • Depending on the Writer, Bart Simpson gets this on the occasional episode. There's no doubt he's the coolest character on the show, but his popularity in school (or even with the rest of the town) runs the gambit from adored by everyone for how awesome he is, to being a loner whose only friend is Milhouse.
  • Max Goof from Goof Troop falls into this category, He had friends, had a girl who liked him, but also the occasional bully, but all in all he was a cool loser. Meanwhile his girlfriend Roxanne's friend Stacey from A Goofy Movie is an Inversion—she has large glasses and braces but is the most popular girl in school and the class president.
    • The fact that Stacey is implied to be rich (enough to afford pay-per-view at least) and throws awesome parties may have something to do with it.
  • Recess has an interesting inversion. Most of the leads have reason to be losers: with Gus, Gretchen, Spinelli, Mikey and even T.J. having 'uncool' qualities. (The only exception is Vince.) Despite this, they are called the most popular kids on the playground. Then again, their popularity does vary throughout the series. Some episodes they're heroes and in others (such as "The Ratings Game"), utter rejects. This usually depends on whether they conform to the laws of the playground. In the end, the gang sticks together because they're each other's only real friends.
  • In As Told by Ginger, the protagonist Ginger is a "geek" who is struggling to rise on the popularity ladder through junior high and high school. However, she is nowhere as geeky as her two friends, and because of this Alpha Bitch (?) Courtney Gripling takes an interest in her, but never seems to remember the names of Ginger's friends.
  • Lee Ping from Detentionaire seems to be set up for this, even though he's a subversion of Asian and Nerdy in that he's an intelligent, friendly guy who doesn't fit into any one clique at his high school. Strangely, being blamed for a huge prank on the first day of school made him popular with the other kids while getting him detention (and grounded) for a year. Lee's friends care more for his popularity than he does as he's determined to find out who framed him for the prank.
  • Lampshaded in the Regular Show episode "A Bunch of Baby Ducks," where the baby ducks called Mordecai and Rigby the coolest losers they know. The duo took this as a compliment.


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