In popular culture, usually comedy, Frenchmen are often Acceptable Targets. They will be portrayed as villains, antagonists or someone who is just plain mean, arrogant, snobbish, bad tempered, foul mouthed or rude. Often he will talk and laugh triumphantly in a Maurice Chevalier Accent, after insulting foreigners.
These are the most common situations in which this character turns up:
1) Characters visit France or meet a Frenchman. They'll ask him a simple direction or question, but the French Jerk refuses to answer, starts insulting or threatening them and/or feels they are beneath him.
2) French Cuisine Is Haughty: Characters visit a French restaurant, where the cook and/or the waiter are all arrogant, badly tempered and dirty snobs who refuse to give their clients what they want or interpret everything they say as a complaint. If they deliver the meals the food will always be filthy, disgusting or cold.
3) Characters meet a rich Upper-Class Twit, who happens to speak Gratuitous French in order to appear très chic and looks down upon the others because they are out of his noble league. A lot of comedy will be built around the fact that he or she doesn't understand or care for the common people and is unable to speak the language of the protagonists correctly. To top it all off he/she will wear or carry a lorgnette, a monocle or a small handkerchief, to emphasize his/her snobbishness. In the end he or she will always be humiliated or put in her place. This Stock Character can be found in a lot of countries who were conquered/colonized by the French or dominated by a French elite in the past, such as Belgium.
4) Characters meet an arrogant Frenchman full of Misplaced Nationalism, either in their country or in France. He acts as The Rival to The Hero and will start a discussion about whose country is better, either in dialogue or through some sort of competition, such as a sport tournament. After the conflict is resolved, however, he often will have grown to love the country of The Hero and isn't as arrogant about himself or his country as he was before. This follows after he is defeated or after any interaction between them that resolves the conflict.
5) In the USA in particular the French jerk will be portrayed as an ungrateful coward, whom the brave Americans saved in World War One and Two, but who has no respect for Americans in modern times. This is a somewhat one-sided caricature, because the French have in the past battled German invaders more than once (Franco-Prussian War (1871), for instance) and during their so-called unheroic retreat in World War Two the French only surrendered because the Nazis had already surrounded Paris and threatened to blow the city up. The French resistance did a lot during both World Wars to sabotage the Nazis' plans, when the USA was still remaining neutral during both conflicts. And those ''French jerks'' actually helped the Americans during their War of Independence in 1776.
This is more of a Characterization Trope, unlike, say, Eagle Land or Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys. Compare Stuffy Brit.
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An old McDonald's ad featured Ronald McDonald and his friends touring around the world visiting humourous reimaginings of famous landmarks. In France, they meet the "Awful Tower", who was a sentient Eiffel Tower that told bad jokes in an obnoxious French accent.
Awful Tower: Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven eight nine! Oh hon hon hon...!
Henri Claytor from Future GPX Cyber Formula is an extreme version of this in ZERO. While he may not be arrogant like other examples, he is a huge jerk, being a Manipulative Bastard, as well as borderline batshit insane, and he also has a deep-seated hatred for the main character. He mellows out at the end; he's still a jerk, but much less than he used to be.
Sophie Montgomery and her mother Jeanne in Lady. Ultimately subverted with Sophie, who shows a quite more sympathetic side as it's shown that Jeanne manipulates and harrasses her in hopes to get her to inherit her English grandma's fortune, threatening Sophie with abandoning her in France if she fails. Meanwhile, Sophie just wants to be loved by her mom.
Marginal Prince gives us Henri-Hugues de Saint Germain, the series' resident stoicDeadpan Snarker. He's relatively silent in general, but when something comes out of his mouth it's often snarkage at others, his favourite target being the American Alfred. Subverted sometimes, when his proverbs and comments veil genuinely valuable lessons/suggestions. He never takes any efford in making them sound nice, though.
Most Venusians from Battle Angel Alita. A race of hideous, egg-shaped mutants descended from French space colonists, their dependance on Organic Technology has given them a very callous attitude towards other living things.
Jewelpet Twinkle has three French sisters - Marianne, Catherine and Angelina - who constantly gloat about their achievements and put the main characters down for going to a "country" school. That said, Marianne gets a bit of Character Development and becomes Tsundere for the (female) protagonist midway through the anime, after the latter saves her life.
The Cyclone, Pierre Fresson, from Thunderbolts. Vain, egotistical, self-serving, and lecherous to the last.
You have Georges Batroc, the Leaper, a classic foe of Captain America and a giant dickwad to boot.
Depending on the Writer. He's a tad egotistical, true, but he's not really a jerk most of the time. He gave up crime after hearing Steve lament the fact none of his enemies ever reformed. In fact, Batroc and Cap have a pretty friendly relationship and he has helped Cap numerous times. Even as a villain, he'll team up with Cap to take on the really vile supervillains.
Averted in The Boys, in which the Frenchman is probably the nicest, friendliest, most genial guy in the series. He'll crush your skull if you make him mad, but still, by the standards of an Ennis story, stand-up guy.
Inverted in the the Thing's "Civil War" arc. Since the Marvel Civil War seems to involve everyone Ben knows in the U.S. turning into a colossal jerk and he doesn't want to have to pick sides between his friends, he travels to France. The French super-heroes he meets are all a little eccentric, but charmingly nice people, in contrast to how things have gotten back in the States.
In De Klankentapper a very posh French girl looks down upon Suske and Wiske and speaks in mangled Dutch with French phrases. When she tries to make Wiske jealous by trying to seduce Suske Wiske hates her with passion. Then the story takes a dramatic turn, as the French girl turns out to be an iron lung patient. Wiske takes pity on her and the French girl apologizes for her arrogance in the past.
The baroness in De Spokenjagers is also a posh Upperclass Twit who happens to speak French.
Nero: Meneer Pheip is a Flemish man of French descent who speaks mangled Dutch with a lot of badly translated French and Dutch. He is a rich arrogant, but dimwitted snob and in some stories he even turns against Nero, though he always forgiven in the end and seen as an irritating nuisance, but a friend nevertheless.
Tom Poes: Marquis de Canteclaer is a snobbish rooster, who uses très chique French words and expressions, but always looks down upon everyone in his environment, especially Bommel whom he sees as someone not worthy to be called a nobleman.
Astérix: None of the Gauls is a real French jerk (not surprising, since this comic strip was made in France), but Vitalstatistix and Cacofonix sometimes act very arrogant and mean spirited towards others.
Obelix has a tendency to name people from other nations crazy, though more because he is too dimwitted to understand them, than out of aggressive feelings.
Played with in Ratatouille. Collette says at one point, "Sorry to be rude, but we're French", which makes no sense since they are in France. There are some examples of French chauvinism, like the opening narration stating that "although other nations might dispute this fact... the best food in the world is made in France", and Skinner dismissively calling corn dogs "cheap sausages dipped in batter and fried; you know, American."
Collette's line is "Sorry to be rude, but we're French and it's dinnertime." She was talking to reporters, so it may have been a joke, but she also had a kitchen to get running and Linguini's interview had them running late, so it may not.
Chef Louie from The Little Mermaid has shades of this - including the obnoxious, nasal "french laugh": Hee hee hee, haw haw haw! He also sings about cutting up and serving fish for dinner, which seems almost sadistic from the point of view of Sebastian.
LeFrog in Flushed Away. "I find everyone's pain funny but my own. I am French!"
In Rush Hour 3, the two heroes try to take a taxi from the airport after they land in France. The driver refuses, saying that he does not drive Americans, and begins to list the numerous ways America is second rate to France. After an exciting car chase, the taxi driver completely changes his outlook on America, chasing his newfound dream of becoming an American spy, like in the movies in America always show.
Despite providing the page quote, Inspector Tarconi from The Transporter series is an aversion, being quite helpful to Frank and rather friendly. When placed into police custody in the United States in the sequel, he quickly makes friends with the entire precinct by impressing them with his cooking.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 once riffed a movie called 12 To The Moon, which played this trope deadly straight: the obnoxious French engineer was willing to let the moon aliens freeze North America in ice because it would knock America out of global competition. At which point the scientist from the Soviet Union gave him an Even Evil Has Standards speech (considering this movie was made in the mid 1950s, that's pretty serious). Of course, the character was such an over-the-top French Jerk that Mike and the 'bots didn't have to go far to spoof the trope:
"In France we have better moons than you people!"
Pascal Sauvage from the film Johnny English lives this trope, especially when he burns someone alive with a flamethrower trap in an elevator.
The French aren't afraid of satirizing their own jerks, either. In Mr. Hulot's Holiday, most of the tourists and staff staying at the seaside hotel are uptight and disdainful. By the end of the film, they've taken such a dislike to Mr. Hulot (mainly because of him being The Jinx) that they won't even make the effort to say goodbye to him.
Tomas in Black Swan gropes, taunts, and generally over exerts Nina to get the best performance he can from her. Considering she's batshit crazy, this has a less than awesome outcome.
In National Lampoons European Vacation, the waiter the Griswolds run into in Paris is exceptionally rude, telling them he'd serve them dishwater instead of what they ordered (since they "wouldn't know the difference"), and eventually telling them to go fuck themselves.
In Latter Days, Aaron uses the French reputation for being jerks to defuse an increasingly tense conversation about Mormon beliefs:
Ryder: God hates homos.
Christian: You're gonna come into my house and tell me God hates homosexuals?
Aaron: And the French.
Ryder: God hates the French?
Aaron: Everybody hates the French.
12 to the Moon (1960). Out of the twelve man Multinational Team (including a Russian, and a German whose father was a Nazi war criminal) it's the Frenchman who suggests they let America be frozen by evil Moon aliens so Europe can dominate the world. The German is shocked by this and fights him until the evil Frenchie is knocked out by a red-blooded American.
Played with in The Wolf of Wall Street. Jordan thinks that Jean-Jacques, the French Swiss banker who aids him in laundering the profits from his securities frauds, sees him as an "American shit" (while conversely Jean-Jacques thinks Jordan sees him as the trope) But the two enjoy a cordial relationship until a key element of their scheme falls apart, whereupon they hang up on each other saying exactly what the other thought they thought of them.
In A Knight's Tale, William's main rival is Count Adhemar, a French nobleman who is also a complete and utter Jerkass.
Louis de Funès: This French comedian played a French jerk in all of his films, in high contrast with his real, more modest and friendly personality.
The French have been bad guys in every Matthew Reilly book they've been in. In an interview, he notes that he's never been published in France.
He lampshades this in Hover Car Racer when after having trouble with a famous French racer who is despised by every person outside of France and another less famous French racer the main character asks "is every French person in this sport evil?"
Things are shaken up a little in Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves when the French characters sent to kill Scarecrow wind up teaming up with him to take on the villain, and they turn out to be seriously awesome. Renard is even set up to become Scarecrow's new love interest.
Detective Giraud in the Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Links. He gets throughoutly humiliated in the end by the Belgian Hercule Poirot. The point here is that Giraud and Poirot use very different investigation methods. Giraud searches the crime scene and its vicinity for any kind of physical evidence, no matter how insignificant. Footprints, cigarette butts, etc. Poirot compares his rival to a police hound. Meanwhile, Poirot calmly contemplates the psychology of the crime and of the various people involved— getting a clearer picture of what is going on and the context of the various evidence.
An episode of My Name Is Earl had a French character that Earl bullied in grade school. He held a grudge against Earl, and upon seeing him again, knocked Earl out with a headbutt. Near the end of the episode it's revealed that the Frenchman came to America in grade school to flirt with the women, his accent having a much more sexier effect in America than in France, where it's commonplace. After Earl fulfills the Frenchman's purpose for coming, by taking him out to meet the girls he knew from grade school (including one of the teachers) and having sexnote i.e. making out with them, the Frenchman's view of Earl and America as a whole change.
But then the Frenchman lets it slip that he is in fact married, and now has cheated on his wife with several women. Kinda of Jerk Ass thing to do.
In The West Wing, the President's youngest daughter took on a French Jerk boyfriend - much to the chagrin of most of the rest of the cast. For most of his run he was just a little bit of a jackass, derided by the gang because he's French but mainly because he knocked Charlie out of the picture. At the end of the fourth season, however, he gives ecstasy GHB to the daughter, making her kidnapping easier for the perpetrators. Just to pile on the jerkiness, he is written as demanding immunity from prosecution before he'll help US authorities locate her.
Henri on Cheers, who made no attempt to hide the fact that he was going to steal Woody's girlfriend.
Sam endured the taunts of that very same self-aggrandizing Frenchman until said Frenchman insulted America. Sam then challenged the Frenchman to see who could collect the most phone numbers from women in the bar. When, out of guilt, Sam opted not to get the phone numbers of the two nice women who would have put his total over the top and thereby lost the contest, the Frenchman cheered, "I win! I win! France has won!"
"There's somethin' you never hear!
An early episode of 7th Heaven had a rather rude French exchange student who smoked and ruined everyone's illusion regarding romantic French people.
One episode of The Inbetweeners featured Simon's French exchange partner, Patrice. He was surly and uncommunicative to everyone except Will's love interest Charlotte, whom he slept with instead.
Marvin Suggs of The Muppet Show is a demented, egocentric jerk who enjoys abusing his Muppaphones for the sake of entertainment.
Guest: Are you going to hurt these adorable living creatures?
Marvin Suggs: Of course-ah! You cannot get mu-sic from dead creatures!
In an episode of Coupling, one of Susan's clients is a woman named Giselle, who is referred to as "The French Bitch" so much it might as well be her last name. We only see her for a split second at the end of the episode, so whether or not she was an actual bitch is up to the imagination.
Show up quite frequently on Good Eats, typically representative of "conventional" ways of culinary thinking and/or the restaurant industry.
The Chameleon in Season 3 of NCIS: Los Angeles is revealed to be a French national in the season finale, although he goes far beyond merely being a jerk.
In one episode of The Thin Blue Line, everyone at the police station is forced to attend diversity training, but when they're instructed to arrest an illegal immigrant, they get the wrong guy - causing a major incident because he is actually the European Commissioner for Human Rights (and black.) The man turns out to be a French Jerk and instantly starts complaining about everything in Britain: "You British. No wonder we all hate you. Your chocolate isn't chocolatey enough. Your bananas are too long and bendy. And you insist on eating prawn cocktail crisps despite the fact that we have told you not to!"
JAG: The ICC prosecutor in "People v. Sec Nav" qualifies.
The Happy Days episode "The Duel" has possibly the jerkiest Frenchman ever depicted, an arrogant exchange student and fencing champion who insults everything from America to Joanie. Richie challenges him to a duel, but Fonz takes his place and thoroughly kicks his ass.
The Capitol Steps' song parody "Euro Pest" is about having Euro Disney staffed entirely by French Jerks.
Eddie Izzard, on the French in his stand-up show "Dress To Kill":
...and France hated them all ‘cause Southern France was collaborating with the Germans, embarrassing! So since then, they've been kind of spiky and kind of, er, French... I'm very positive on the French, my family way back was French, so I go with it, but they are kind of, well, fucking French at times... "All of Europe, you must do this!" "Well… we're not gonna! We're gonna have a sandwich."
Later in that show:
We play bad guys in Hollywood movies because of the Revolutionary War. Yes, there’s no two ways about it. And the French, who were on your side in the Revolutionary war, they play more esoteric characters. They have characters who turn up and go, "My name is Pierre! I come from Paris. I’ve come to have sex with your family." "Help yourself... because of the debt of honor to General Lafayette." You know your own history, right? You don't know who he is, do you?! What was it? The Spanish-American War? The French Banana War? What? The Revolutionary War! Hung out with Washington. Lafayette. Street named after him in New York. Forget it!
French comedian Marcel Lucont uses this as part of his stand-up persona.
(Imitating a Frenchman) Fuck you Americans! Uncultured, crass Americans! We hate all of you! Fu- the Germans are here! Hello Americans! We love you!
Flintloque is a Napoleonic Wars wargame set in an Earth with the usual array of fantasy races and Fantasy Counterpart Cultures. The French analogues are elves, with all thatthat implies. Oh, and the German analogues are dwarves and the British, orcs.
Pretty much every (male) French character in Shakespeare, for that matter, though the trope is averted in Alls Well That Ends Well and Loves Labours Lost where nearly all the characters are at least nominally French, and possibly subverted in King Lear, in which the King of France is impressed by Cordelia's honesty and marries her despite her recent disinheritance.
Played especially straight in Henry V, with the French noblemen being complete and utter jerks. The only exception is Mountjoy the herald (who is not, of course, a noble).
Not jerks, necessarily. The king is beleaguered and Catherine is completely innocent. Plus, when you consider the pile of BS that is Henry's claim to the throne of France, the nobles' antipathy towards the English invaders is understandable...the Dauphin was always rather contemptuous, though, and not just of the English.
Lampshaded as a one-shot joke in the second version of Avenue Q's musical number Everyone's A Little Bit Racist:
Princeton: Well, sure, Gary, but lots of people tell black jokes. But I bet you tell jokes about French people, right?
Gary: Yeah, sure I do! Those French people are such assholes.
Princeton: Now don't you think that's a little racist?
Jean-Paul "JP" Arsenault from the SSX video game series. Self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-serving, and arrogant, JP has a gigantic but fragile ego and is easily unnerved by any hint of disrespect towards himself; Basically, he puts on a Jerkass Façade to hide his severe insecurity. But that doesn't mean he isn't still a jerk; His SSX Blur profile still lists his "trait" as "Arrogant.
Captain René Rottingham from Curse seems to be French.
Cooking Mama for the Wii has pictures of children that represent all the different countries the food originates from. France is the only child that is frowning, it also wears a beret and holds a glass of wine.
Remy, from the Street Fighter III series. Though, his Jerk attitude might stem from him being a nihilist, not necessarily French. Abel from Street Fighter IV avert this, however.
George Stobbart's condescending, some-time love rival Andre in the Broken Sword series is arguably this.
The King of Fighters gives us Ash Crimson. Snide, condescending, manipulative, and ambushes people when they're at their weakest. However by XIII;, it's revealed he's a subversion.
Jean Pierre from Fighter's History isn't as bad as other examples, but he's still very arrogant and vain.
The Orlesian Empire from Dragon Age are often depicted in this light, where its seen as being filled with arrogant, complaining nobles who regularly partake in murder, intrigue, and the eating of stinky cheeses.
Leliana, on the other hand, is one of the sweetest characters in the game (though she does have an unsavory past).
Sakuya le Bel Shirogane of Hatoful Boyfriend is a Foreign Exchange Student from, yes, France. On top of that he's an aristocrat whose family's money instantly got him the position of Class Representative. He is haughty, touchy, and generally insufferable; his Hidden Depths hold something better but it takes a lot of melting or trauma to get to them. In contrast his half-brother Yuuya is always friendly to the point of sometimes being a lech, but backs off instantly if told he's crossed a line.
In The Matrix Path Of Neo the Merovingian's jerk-ness is further explored in that he traps Neo in the chateau and forces him to fight his way out. In the meantime Neo learns that the Frenchman has his own Mooks tortured or deleted for failure.
Mocked in one issue of Penny Arcade, with a one-off appearance by Raven, who is also an arrogant Mac user.
Pierre, the illegal immigrant to the U.S.A. in C'est la Vie. Just very occassionally his sister Mona, who hs been in the U.S.A. longer and is legally resident.
Alice Boucher of Survival of the Fittest is an example of this trope: one of her biggest regrets about being in America is that she doesn't know any insults in English. Due to Character Development after being put on the island (as well as a change in writer), she grows out of this very quickly though.
There was also the episode where a deaf Bart mooning the American flag ends up getting the family in jail. After they escape the prison through a waterway, they encounter a boat filled with French people going back to France, who tell them to come with them and "snub the country that saved (them) twice in war".
And the Napoleon Bonaparte look-alike, who spouts the same catchphrase.
Antoine the Coyote from Sonic Sat AM who was quite rude to Sonic. He gets Character Development in the Archie comics but never quite got there in the show before it was cancelled.
ReBoot has Cecil, who was rude to everyone but Dot, his employer.
Lampshaded on Futurama, with the one-off joke about the "Republic of French Stereotypes." Nobody likes them.
On Dilbert the title character goes to the dry cleaners only to be abused by the French-sounding owners. When he mentions that he is not there to complain, they say that they're not French, only rude, and it just sounds better with a French accent.
Nanette Manoir from Angela Anaconda is Franco-Canadian rather than French, but otherwise fits this trope perfectly. Although, as the titular character points out quite often to the viewers, Nanette really isn't French at all; she's just faking it because she thinks it makes her sound cultured. Indeed, the Bilingual Bonus is that anyone listening who actually knows French can tell Nanette is often either flat out mistaken or making it up when she uses "French" words, and the plot of one story is an actual French girl (who is far nicer than Nanette is) joins the class and nearly reveals she can't speak a word of French.