You know someone who went to the trouble of individually icing all these cupcakes deserves to be Class President!
She gets straight A's in her classes, while also taking charge of multiple school clubs and volunteering at a homeless shelter in her spare time. She's unfailingly polite to her peers, older adults, and younger children alike. She might not be a fashion plate, but she never steps outside her home without looking perfectly presentable. Nobody doubts that big things are to be expected of her.
They are, right? Otherwise, it would be so frustrating for all that effort to go to waste!
The Go-Getter Girl is a young woman who devotes herself to achievements other than homemaking above everything else. The reasons for this might vary: she may have some personal goal she feels she needs to accomplish, she may be desperately seeking the approval of others, or she may simply enjoy competing against her peers and taking the number one rank. In any case, she's well aware of the effort that her path requires, but she's more than up to the challenge. She finds it easy, or at least manageable, to discipline herself to avoid distractions, and while others might complain about the expectations of superiors, she will do whatever she can to meet and exceed them.
Despite all appearances, things aren't always as easy for the Go-Getter Girl as they may seem. All the discipline that goes into creating her persona of perfection may crowd out the possibility for spontaneity, fun, and other pleasures of youth.
It's not that she doesn't want these things deep down; it's just that she feels that she doesn't have the luxury of acting on them. For this reason, while she might always seem completely put-together in public
, in the few moments she has to herself in private, she's liable to let herself go and act like a slob and a slacker...or at least fantasize about doing so. At extremes, the pressure of maintaining her image can get to her, causing her to snap and turn evil or insane.
That being said, Tropes Are Not Bad
. Although the Go-Getter Girl must deal with a certain amount of pressure, her personality also allows her to accomplish things others of her peers cannot. If she is able to find balance in her life, she has the potential to become a true leader.
Romance is often a secondary concern in such a character's life; she's more focused on her future for the time being. If her mind does turn to love, she's liable to look for someone of a status befitting her own perceived value. In the case where she is secretly attracted to someone she sees as beneath her, expect a lot of furious denials and put-downs as she (generally unsuccessfully) tries to distance herself from her feelings
If the Go-Getter Girl is in high school, she is very often a Class Representative
or Student Council President
, as well as focused on entering the Ivy League
, or Tokyo University
. College Go-Getter Girls will be racking up internships and academic distinctions as they position themselves for an appealing job when they graduate. The oldest a Go-Getter Girl is likely to be is her late 20s or early 30s; by this time, if they have continued to stay on the path to success, they will have begun to take on real responsibilities and grown into a different trope
Go-Getter Boys can exist, but they are much rarer. This may be due to the historical legacies of sexism, as discrimination has forced women to prove themselves in order to get the same rewards as men. For this reason, a boy with academic talents or personal charisma is more likely to focus on developing those traits alone, without the need to appear perfect in other areas.
Compare and contrast with Plucky Girl
, a similarly strong and determined character type, but one that shows more comfort with breaking rules and flouting social conventions, as well as The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask
, who has these pressures thrust upon her as a member of royalty rather than freely choosing them.
Compare and contrast also with Academic Alpha Bitch
. Also not to be confused with female characters who work with Getter Rays
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Anime and Manga
- Yukino Miyazawa from Kare Kano maintains a facade of outward perfection in order to obtain praise from others. Arima's accidental discovery of the girl behind the mask kicks off both the plot and her own path to self-discovery.
- Utena Tenjou from Revolutionary Girl Utena painfully learns the difference between holding an ideal of achievement and managing actual leadership.
- Lafiel from Crest of the Stars does not coast on her status as a Princess, but instead desires to prove herself as a commander in her own right.
- Asuka Langley Soryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion wants to be this but, due to her traumatic background, does not have the mental health to do so. Her unprovoked rudeness to perceived inferior Shinji is an early sign of the desperation behind her driven personality.
- Naru Narusegawa from Love Hina, as demonstrated by her obsession with entering into Tokyo University.
- Nana from Nana to Kaoru is so wrapped up in her quest for achievement, the only thing that can help her relax is a good session of BDSM.
- Sumire in Kimi Wa Petto is an interesting case. As a woman in her late 20s, she represents the older age limit of this type. While she is well on the way to achieving professional success, she finds herself facing multiple personal anxieties due to the compromises and life decisions she had made along the way. The epilogue shows a happy ending, where she has managed to combine a fulfilling career with a loving relationship, albeit with the very last type of man she would have expected.
- Hiroko Matsukada from Hataraki Man is practically an expy of Sumire. Same driven attitude to work (in practically the same job, no less!), same struggles with balancing work and personal life (and the fact that her professional ambitions have partially contributed to her being single in her late 20s), same issues with sexism where her co-workers value her contributions but see her as not feminine enough.
- Ayaka Machida in Stellvia of the Universe is extremely ambitious, to the point where she is ready to commit amoral and outright criminal acts to come out on top.
- Maid-Sama!: Misaki is a model student, a highly active and effective Student Council President, and works to help financially support her family.
- Ayatsuji Tsukasa from Amagami SS, complete with hidden Bitch in Sheep's Clothing tendencies.
- Kyouko from Skip Beat! starts out as... not this, as she's dropped out of high school and sacrificed her entire life to take care of her actor sorta-boyfriend. Then she happens to overhear what he really thinks of her (disposable labor), and she vows to get her revenge by outshining him in show business. Cue her personality switching 180 degrees, as from then on, nothing will stand in the way of her pursuit of success.
- Tracy Flick from Election epitomizes the negative aspects of this trope, as her need for achievement is shown to get in the way of her forming meaningful personal relationships.
- In Legally Blonde, Vivian Kensington is the prototypical hard-working, serious Harvard Law School student, which is why the ditzy yet competent Elle Woods annoys her to no end.
- Amber Atkins in Drop Dead Gorgeous. She's a good student, holds two jobs, volunteers at the anorexia wing of the hospital and still has time to practice her tap dancing!
- Amy Squirrel and Sasha in Bad Teacher.
- Harry Potter: Hermione Granger is an example of how someone can navigate through the pitfalls of this trope and end up a mature, balanced woman.
- Eilonwy from the Chronicles of Prydain is very devoted to achieving excellence as an enchantress, and, like Hermione, can be somewhat snotty to those she sees as slacking off.
- Quite a few of the girls in Enid Blyton's Malory Towers books take their turns at this. Darrell Rivers, Sally Hope and Alicia Johns are the cream of the all-rounders; most of the other girls who stand out for their achievements are known for one particular talent.
Live Action TV
- Rory Gilmore and Paris from Gilmore Girls.
- Andie and Joey from Dawson's Creek, with both of them, being part of troubled families and suffering from a terrible home life, consequentely becoming ambitious overachievers.
- Smallville: Lois Lane is a major example, and so is her cousin Chloe Sullivan.
- Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch becomes this. She is something of a nerd in high school and devotes herself to her ambitions of becoming a journalist.
- Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks is a subversion of this. She does well at school, has a part time job, a boyfriend, and regularly volunteers with a local Meals on Wheels... But the deeper the investigation into her death probes, the darker her life seems.
- Topanga Lawerance from Boy Meets World starts off as a weird Granola Girl, but develops into this trope as the series goes on.
- Annie Edison from Community: her character was inspired by Tracy Flick. Although it hasn't worked out so well for her in the past (a disastrous Adderall addiction during high school) she grows into a mature and kind but still very driven young woman over the course of the series.
- Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation is a slightly older, but not necessarily more mature version. Yet another character on this list who was inspired by Tracy Flick.
- Spencer Hastings from Pretty Little Liars.
- Mitsuru Kirijo from Persona 3 may have originally have taken on this role because of her family responsibilities, but she certainly pulls it off (even if she sometimes thinks about what it would be like otherwise).
- Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night. Drive to excel? Check. Need to present a perfect front to her peers? Check. Secret impolite, slacker side? Check. Willingness to put personal relationships aside in order to attain her goals? Check (sorry, Sakura). Luckily for her, she has a good heart and a resilient personality which sees her through even after running into setbacks.
- Shizune from Katawa Shoujo has this personality, while at the same time needing to deal with her deafness. Perhaps because of this, she often comes off as more abrasive than others of this type.
- Young Eva from Umineko no Naku Koro ni started out like this in high school. Then her father told her she could never become family head because she was a woman. Things got worse from there...
- Androssi from the Manhwa Tower of God, as a result of a training regimen that boiled down to 'achieve, or starve'.
- Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons often will behave like this, although she is still young enough to balance it out with moments of acting like a normal girl.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Azula is a good example of why this is a bad thing to be if you grow up in an environment that fosters inhumanity, cut-throat competition, and sheer unbridled ruthlessness. Not only does meeting people's expectations in this case mean being an abominable human being, but the need to throw friendship, love, and morality itself aside in the name of obedience and ambition is enough to cause mental instability at the first hint of a true setback.
- Katara also has some of these traits.
- Kim Possible.
- Jodi Landon from Daria, which has something to do with the pressure of being one of the few black students at Lawndale High as well as her parents.
- Blossom of The Powerpuff Girls. "Power-Noia" revealed that she has a serious complex for being perfect.
- Courtney from Total Drama Island and its sequels.
- Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Before the start of the series, her only care was perfecting her mage studies, actively shunning anything that could get in the way of that, which meant no social life for her.
- Edd (Double D) from Ed, Edd n Eddy is a rare male example. He gets good grades at school, is talented in mechanics, gets along with the kids (sometimes when Eddy isn't around) and has an active social life at his school (he is a journalist of the Peach Creek Junior High Tattler and the president of the Happy Clucker's club and the safety clubs).
- When extreme, this trope may be a diagnosable mental illness. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (not to be confused with OCD) is "A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency."
- There is evidence to suggest that even today girls at school are expected to be all round perfect (for instance get good grades, be good at sports, music and acting, have a part-time job/volunteer) far more so than boys, who are more expected to be good at just one chosen field, which leads to girls being effectively forced into becoming go getter girls. This is detailed in articles like this one.