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This is when Took 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 Jerkass Ball
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
Anime & 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 very frequent basis due to the Aesop-centric formula of the show. Some of the most particularly glaring examples however:
- In "The Ticket Master" 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.
- In "The Super Speedy Cider Squezzy 6000" Ponyville's insensitivity and impatience almost costs the Apple Family their livelihood. The Apple family ponies were being inconsiderate to their customers also, what with making them stand in line all day only to sell out early and leave the ponies in the back empty handed. 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. Once there everypony hates her guts. 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 eventually goes mad with her assertive training 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 fair-natured Twilight Sparkle has an outright Sanity Slippage from being tardy in writing a friendship message, and resorts to making a problem in order to have material. Other Mane 6 bouncing with the ball laugh at her problem and 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, 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 and justify her behavior by claiming she was only pretending to be scared in order to get into the Nightmare Nightnote spirit.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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 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.
- 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 Jerk Ass Ball, becoming uncharacteristically irrational and antagonistic towards new league member Captain Marvel.