This is when Taking a Level in Jerkass
is plot-requested. Sometimes, an otherwise nice person becomes a Jerkass
unexpectedly, most likely to advance the plot
or sometimes simply for humor value
If done to deliberately take The Straight Man
or Nice Guy
down a peg, it counts as Not So Above It All
Acquired Situational Narcissism
is a specific ego centered example of this trope.
May overlap with Not Himself
, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!
, Depending on the Writer
and Comedic Sociopathy
. If done in a particularly exaggerated manner that in no way befits their normal characterization it is likely an Out-of-Character Moment
or a Moment of Weakness
. If the character has not actually become a Jerkass, but merely presented that way, it's Superdickery
. Not to be confused with the Haters' Ball
Anime and Manga
- In Ranma ½, Ranma's dad Genma was always a bit of a careless jerk, but definitely took a level with the introduction of the Nekoken (a super-secret technique that can only be taught by torturing children), turning him from Bumbling Dad to insane, nightmare dad. It's also a case of Never Live It Down, since he rarely does anything else that approaches that level of horrific stupidity.
- In the Doraemon 2014 reboot episode "Noby the Robot", Noby firmly grasps the ball as he shirks all responsibilities by making miniature robot versions of his friends and bossing them around. Of course, this ends badly for him and his mom denies supper until he pulls all of the weeds himself like she asked.
- As much as the Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger tend to get on each others' nerves already, the team was collectively being cruel even by their standards during the first part of Episode 5, as the show wanted Tart to feel the need to change into her Hotter and Sexier Second Form.
Tart! Hurry up and move that big butt of yours off me, somewhere else! Tart:
What? Well, I'm sorry my butt is big! Leave me alone! Nyorori:
Telling a lady her butt is big is terribly rude nyorori. Hols:
But it's true! Bakumaru:
So, then, the one with the big butt didn't mean to say that
... let's find the Ugly Duckling!
What do you think, Tart? Tart:
) No matter what, my butt is big]]... Bakumaru:
What is it? Are you still worked up over what happened earlier? Urii:
What happened earlier? Nyorori:
Yeah, it's ugly, nyorori. Hols:
Yeah, it's ugly. Tart:
) I'll always be the ugly, big-butt bird! You guys' constant chatter is irritating. Hmmph... Bakumaru:
Hey! Wait, Tart!... Jeez, acting all saucy... Who are you? The one calling herself ugly, big-butt, and hysterical? Urii:
You added one more. Bakumaru:
... ah, did I?...
- Even after Sakura's Character Development in the manga, the Naruto fillers tend to ignore that for the sake of comedy.
- Throughout Year 2 of Amazing Agent Luna, Luna, Francesca, and Oliver all grip it tightly at various points for a variety of reasons, from Fantastic Racism towards the science-y to feelings of near-total abandonment.
- Justice League: Cry for Justice hands the ball to several heroes, making them increasingly violent and sadistic in their efforts to track down criminals. The worst of them is Ray Palmer, who tortures information out of Killer Moth by shrinking to a microscopic size, entering his brain and enlarging slightly to simulate a stroke—the same method Jean Loring used to kill Sue Dibny.
- Superman Distant Fires had Captain Marvel not only become arrogant and power-hungry, but the main villain of the comic, trying to kill Superman for leadership. Keep in mind that Captain Marvel is usually one of the more kindly DC Superheroes. Though then again, this was an independent comic and was never canon. The Earth blowing up and EVERYONE dying (except Superman's son) at the end should be a clue
- In Green Lantern: Rebirth, after Parallax, the cosmic horror living embodiment of fear, has started wreaking havoc on Earth, the recently returned Hal Jordan gets ready to lead the rest of the Earth Lanterns against it... and Batman stops him... because we had to have Hal punch Batman. Sure, Bruce doesn't trust Hal... but in this case, he'd let it slide!
- Septimus Heap: The usually nice titular character was rather mean to his sister Jenna at the beginning of Darke, for ostensibly no reason other than to disregard her warnings about a building danger in the Palace.
- There's a point in Galaxy of Fear where Tash starts pulling away from and being more mean to her brother, which confuses him; since their parents died she's halfway been Promoted To Parent, halfway a partner in their close Brother-Sister Team. Partly this serves to get her involved in the plot, but it's also partly because Tash is almost fourteen, growing up and not needing to be as close anymore. She quickly softens and apologizes for being mean, but while they stay close, in later books there's more distance between them than in the first six.
- One of the reasons why Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a Contested Sequel is because of Harry's more abrasive characterization. When he's not brooding, he's yelling at his friends and teachers, and breaking up with Cho for calling out Hermione on permanently disfiguring her friend for cracking under pressure against Umbridge.
- In Smallville, red kryptonite is Clark's personal Jerkass Ball.
- Captain Archer from Star Trek: Enterprise played around with the Jerk Ass ball in the episode "A Night In Sickbay", rudely dismissing the idea of the Kreetassans being insulted because Porthos relieved himself on a tree (the fact that he brought his dog on a strange alien planet is a bit looney in itself), whining because they won't give them the plasma Injector that they need without him apologizing first, threatening to whiz on their trees himself, and berating everybody around him. The story writes in that this is because of his sexual tension with T'Poi. His abrasive behavior is one of the reasons why this episode is disliked by many, though YMMV.
- The X-Files: Agent Mulder seems to be holding the Jerkass Ball in "Beyond The Sea". He's compassionate enough and he genuinely feels for Scully who is dealing with the loss of her father. He actually calls her Dana several times and suggests her some time off. But he also mocks her for only slightly tending to believe in Boggs, a Serial Killer with Psychic Powers, even though that's something he does all the time. Moreover, he reproaches her for following Boggs's leads (suggesting that it is foolish) and then for not admitting the truth to the investigating team (implying that she is not honest). When she returns to her usual rational explanation at the end, Mulder backs off and asks her why she cannot believe after all she has seen. He was seriously messing with her, probably still not trusting her entirely. Mind you, Agent Scully was originally assigned on the X-Files Unit to spy on him and to debunk his work, but they were seen working well together in episodes that preceded this one.
- House of Anubis- There's one part in season three where Fabian rejects Joy. Being the nicest guy in the house next to Alfie, one would expect him to let her down gently like he'd done all throughout season two. Instead he rejected her in an incredibly harsh way, leaving her utterly heartbroken and to quit Sibuna.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a short list of those who played with this ball... Buffy Summers, Dawn Summers, Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Rupert Giles, Angel, Spike, Oz, Tara Maclay, Riley Finn, Anya... examples include going off the rails from trauma, anger at the actions of another character, being a Bratty Half-Pint or needing to Shoot the Dog, or Not Himself, or Token Evil Teammate, to cut a very long story short Joss Whedon's Signature Style is Rule of Drama and happiness is boring, anything to twist the knife and twist the characters to pull this off will be done.
- Doctor Who:
- In the William Hartnell serial "The Reign of Terror", Ian makes a sarcastic comment about the Doctor's driving skills. The Doctor suddenly forgets all of the Character Development he's had since the series starts and announces that he's going to just dump Ian and Barbara in wherever the next place they land as punishment for being ungrateful.
- In "The Daemons", the Third Doctor becomes quite uncharacteristically nasty, in particular aggressively bullying a UNIT technician for only having twentieth-century scientific knowledge, and encouraging Jo to make fun of the Brigadier but then coldly accusing her of insubordination. It's probably meant to be because of how genuinely scared he is of Azal, but this isn't explicitly stated in the story.
- In "The Brain of Morbius" the Doctor forces Sarah to continue helping him investigate Solon's experiment despite the fact that she was recently blinded and is freaking out and begging him to take her back to the TARDIS. The story even gives him a good excuse not to go back to the TARDIS anyway since the Sisterhood stole it, but this isn't mentioned by anyone and the TARDIS isn't even shown heavily in the scene of their escape from the Sisterhood, making it come across as if he's putting Sarah into a dangerous situation out of sheer lack of caring.
- Girl Meets World's Frakle grabs onto of it in the episode "Girl Meets Crazy Hat", when he decides to make muffins made of nothing but sugar.
- A first-season episode of Gotham has Gordon catch it after practically the whole GCPD abandons him to Zsasz, to the point where he actively screws over one cop at one point in the episode.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court Chapter 31 "Fire Spike", the cool-headed and stoic Annie argues with much-less-cool-headed Reynardine, beginning with copying her friend Kat's homework, effectively leading to revealing to him a secret that her mother has kept from him her entire life, one that Annie had learned about not 10 minutes ago. She harshly hammers the nail into him about it for little reason until he retaliates in frustration by making what is essentially The Reveal to her. Annie generally never acts this way and doesn't have much reason other than being visibly frustrated previously, but as a whole she's generally stoic.
- This happens on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic on a regular basis due to the Aesop-centric formula of the show. Some particularly glaring examples are:
- In "The Ticket Master", when Twilight receives a ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala, everypony starts to chase her for it including her friends- yes, even Fluttershy.
- In "Bridle Gossip" when Zecora, a zebra comes to town and is the victim of Fantastic Racism by everypony (including the Mane 6 minus Twilight and Applebloom). Applebloom later follows Zecora home to see if the racism is justified and the Mane 6 try to get her back. Hilarity Ensues.
- Discord, the Big Bad of the Season 2 Premiere has the power to Invoke this trope on others.
- In the same premiere, Twilight seemed to be holding it because she lost patience with her corrupted friends; when Spike had practical concerns such as Rainbow Dash, who was corrupted at the time, being missing, Twilight doesn't care at all about it and makes him take her place in the Elements of Harmony ritual. This fails for obvious reasons.
- In "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" Ponyville's insensitivity and impatience almost costs the Apple Family their livelihood. In all fairness, the Apple family were also being inconsiderate to their customers, what with making them stand in line all day only to sell out early and leave the ponies in the back empty handed (er, hooved). Would it have killed them to raise the price? Or set up a pre-order system? Or at least limit the amount of cider per customer per day so Pinkie Pie couldn't walk off with a whole load while the others go thirsty?
- In "Putting Your Hoof Down" Angel treats Fluttershy like crap, forcing her to go to the market so he can eat his favorite foods. Once there everypony hates her guts and tries to take advantage of her. For example a cherry costs her 10 bits but when another pony buys another cherry it costs only 2 bits. Tomatoes are now 2 bits rather than the one they were yesterday. Fluttershy gets assertiveness training from a visiting motivational speech-giving Minotaur, but eventually goes mad with her newfound assertiveness and starts bullying anyone who so much as vaguely inconveniences her. She snaps out of it when she manages to make her friends cry as a result.
- "Lesson Zero", where the usually reasonable and fair-natured Twilight Sparkle has an outright Sanity Slippage from being tardy in writing a friendship letter, and resorts to causing a problem in order to have material. The other Mane 6 bouncing with the ball laugh at her problem and tell her she is overreacting.
- Held by Pinkie Pie in "Filli Vanilli," where she is really Innocently Insensitive about Fluttershy's severe stage fright. She is called out on this by the rest of the cast though. What makes this more noticeable is that an early episode showed her pranking all of her friends except for Fluttershy, because she was aware that Fluttershy might be too sensitive to handle it, a level of consideration she rarely ever shows again. Also her behavior in "Luna Eclipsed" did NOT help make Princess Luna feel comfortable around her subjects in Ponyville, only managing to make ponies more afraid of the now reformed Princess, though she tries to justify her behavior by claiming she was only pretending to be scared in order to get into the Nightmare Nightnote spirit.
- It's also held by Spike in the episode "Secret of My Excess", where he ends up being overcome by a dragon's hoarding instinct and starts abusing the fact that it's his birthday to try and get free stuff from people until it eventually gets out of control and causes him to become a huge, savage dragon.
- Rainbow Dash holds it occasionally. Some notable examples are a lot of early S1 and S2 episodes where she is very abrasive to her friends, and doesn't seem to care about anyone but herself. One glaring example of this is in "The Mysterious Mare Do Well", though the Mane Five's behaviour in that episode when trying to get RD to learn a lesson in humility could also count as a Jerkass Ball moment for them, as well. This is to show she's flawed, and she does have plenty of moments where she is nothing short of nice. It's possible her being abrasive could simply be a Jerkass Façade as well.
- The Wonderbolts in "Rainbow Falls". Hoo boy... Not only do they not visit their teammate in the hospital, but they outright replace him with Rainbow Dash. This has led to much backlash against Spitfire.
- Nearly every Family Guy character is prone to this based on Rule of Funny. Lois and Brian, who by default are somewhat straight-faced and fairly empathetic characters, can become selfish, vindictive and outright sociopathic jerks if it helps with the shock value comedy. To a lesser extent Seth McFarlane's other works are prone to this as well.
- A lot of Tom and Jerry shorts employ this, having Tom instigate the conflict so that while Jerry dishes out Disproportionate Retribution for the rest of the short the audience still roots for him (for the most part). The scenario is reversed on a few occasions, having Jerry draw the first punch or overdo his retribution so that Tom is allowed to win.
- Combination of this an Idiot Ball in The Dreamstone, Rufus is usually extremely obedient and friendly to the point of being saccharine. Whenever the plot calls for the Urpneys to steal the Dreamstone however, he seems to gain an arrogant streak, disobeying the Dream Maker's orders and messing with the stone so as to give the villains an opening.
- Stan and Kyle of South Park are usually Only Sane Men to the craziness of the world around them, and act as more moralistic foils to Cartman. At times however, often when Cartman is not in a starring role, they can act rather selfish or immoral, having nothing against using similar bullying or conniving tactics as Cartman to get what they want. This is more toned down in later seasons, though still pops up every now and then.
- Thomas the Tank Engine, much akin to Friendship Is Magic, utilizes this often for Aesop value. This is especially prominent in later episodes, where even formally wise and kind engines like Edward can suddenly gain bouts of Acquired Situational Narcissism or Fantastic Racism.
- Goof Troop has a couple of instances:
- In "Queasy Rider", the resident Extreme Doormat Nice Guy PJ is shown laughing at his friend, Max, after Max was humiliated. Later, after Max is being somewhat rude to him, PJ deliberately sets an overflowing hose off on Max. It's not unheard of for PJ to get revenge, but it usually requires more provocation, and regardless of circumstances, he otherwise never does anything worse to Max than be brutally honest.
- "Bringin' on the Rain" takes a character who's already consistently a Jerkass, Pete, and turns his Jerkassery Up to Eleven. He likes to mistreat his neighbor, Goofy and his son, PJ, but he generally doesn't do both in the same episode, and when he does, the offense to one is small or subtle; sometimes he won't blatantly torment either one. In this episode he is crueler than usual to both of them: deliberately getting Goofy arrested for "two consecutive life terms" just so he could win a gardening contest and forcing PJ to do difficult manual labor during a drought while consciously depriving him of fluids. He has no remorse for any of his actions, only relenting about Goofy's treatment once caught, and acknowledging PJ's as if it weren't a problem twice. In the end, his punishment is left up to the viewer's imagination.
- In "Inspector Goofy", Goofy, Peg, and PJ all carry one. Goofy for engaging in Selective Enforcement after promising not to, Peg by having no sympathy when said selective enforcement results in Pete getting kicked out of the house and taunting him with food, and PJ for using one of his two lines to suggest selling Pistol. Goofy and PJ are typically the nicest characters on the show. In particular, Goofy usually doesn't do anything deliberately mean, and PJ almost never strikes first and seldom strikes back. While Peg can be ruthless in enforcing her rules, she typically doesn't do anything blatantly cruel.
- Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls is typically sweet as pie, with the exception of the episode "Bubblevicious", when she starts beating up citizens for minor offenses.
- In The Tick episode "The Tick Vs Arthur", Arthur is tired of being weak and being everyone's punching bag, so he steals villain Baron Violent's belt which gives him his super strength. At first he uses it for good, but after a while, he begins to abuse it, demanding respect and free things from everyone. When the Tick tries to interfere, Arthur beats him up. Eventually, after some convincing from his girlfriend, Carmalita, Arthur realizes what a jerk he's become and destroys the belt.
- The Simpsons: In "Boys of Bummer" everyone in Springfield other than the Simpsons holds the ball when they torment Bart just for missing a game winning catch in a baseball game, even going so far as to goad him into committing suicide.
- In the episode "Separate Vocations" has Lisa turn into a Bad Girl stealing textbooks, smoking in class, and telling her teacher to "Shove it" inversely the same episode has Bart becoming a good kid. Which he has to forsake to bring his sister back and induce the Status Quo.
- In the Recess episode where Gus accidentally kicks their one good ball over the fence, Mikey is only one of his direct friends who gives him a hard time about it, even though he's supposed to be one of the nicer kids.
- Then there was the episode where Gus temporarily became King and the power went to his head. Changing the name Kickball to Gusball, changing the school's anthem into a personal vanity song, and imprisoning everyone for the slightest offense, especially when not agreeing to mining for cookies. And if anyone dare try to explain that cookies don't grow in the ground it only makes him more psychotic.
- The early Peanuts special He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown! let nearly the entire cast hold it. Highlights include Snoopy actually physically attacking Charlie Brown and Linus, Peppermint Patty treating Snoopy as a slave, and even Charlie Brown himself at one point nearly strangling Snoopy with a leash!
- The rather infamous episode of Justice League Unlimited, "Clash," had Superman take firm hold of the Jerkass Ball, becoming uncharacteristically irrational and antagonistic towards new league member Captain Marvel.
- In the The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Hero", Nicole and Anais become flat-out abusive, denying Gumball and Darwin necessities such as food and use of the shower, along with trying to brain them with cement cupcakes, just because they were complaining about their father at school.
- "The Words" sees Darwin, very reminiscently of Fluttershy from My Little Pony, take a lesson in assertiveness too far when he ends up hurting everyone else's feelings when he begins airing out his pet peeves he has with them. It takes Gumball giving him a literal verbal smackdown to get him to see the error of his ways.
- During the Total Drama episode, "If You Can't Take the Heat..." DJ is shown picking on Harold along with Geoff and Duncan, despite the fact that he's ordinarily a contender for the nicest character on the show. Notably, the next episode features Duncan and Geoff picking on Harold without him. Geoff to a lesser extent, as most of the time outside of this arc (in season one at least), he's shown to be nice, if not quite as nice as DJ.
- To be brief, the characters of SpongeBob SquarePants seemed to pass around the Jerkass Ball like a hot potato in the post-movie episodes.
- The Fairly Oddparents: The plot of "The Great Fairy Share Scare" seems to require Timmy to be an incredibly selfish Jerkass in order to make the plot work. This is pretty glaring as he had been seeing some Character Rerailment after being a jerk in some of the previous seasons.
- Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: Normally the nice girl, Nazz gets this from time to time, the most jarring example is in the infamous episode "If It Smells like a Ed" She was among the ones who were laughing at Jimmy getting a wedgie but in in "Boys Will Be Eds", Nazz calls out the boys for laughing at Jimmy's misfortune.