"The best way to not get your heart broken is to pretend you don't have one."
— Charlie Sheen
The character tries to act like either a heartless bastard or otherwise obnoxious Jerkass when he really isn't.
His reasons might be because he is afraid to get intimate with other people because he simply assumes that the person will either die or betray him just like everyone else he has ever gotten close to. It might be because the person is being stalked by horrible demons, The Mafia, The Government, or some other dangerous and unstoppable entity and does not want to drag others into it. In more light-hearted media, maybe he just feels he has a reputation to uphold as a Jerkass. So rather than letting anyone get close to him, he behaves like a completely obnoxious douche bag to scare them all away from wanting anything to do with him.
See also It's Not You, It's My Enemies, Defrosting Ice Queen, Think Nothing of It, Don't You Dare Pity Me!. May secretly be a Zero Approval Gambit. Not to be confused with The Jerkass known as Fassad.
Compare with Jerk with a Heart of Gold. The Jerk with a Heart of Gold really is a jerk, naturally rude and offensive, but also cares more deeply than it appears. A Jerkass Facade comes in when a character is not a jerk, is naturally caring and pleasant, but makes a deliberate decision to act in a jerkish manner to achieve some sort of goal.
Contrast Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and Jerk with a Heart of Jerk.
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Anime and Manga
In Saiyuki, Genjo Sanzo is incredibly rude and likes to constantly threaten his companions with death, but it's all hot air because he also does things like rescuing Goku from his prison and giving Hakkai a chance at a new life. He'll also claim that he doesn't care about hostages, only to rescue said hostages two minutes later.
Dragon Ball Z: Goku acted this way towards Uub during the final episode to bring out his aggression. In reality Goku is kindness incarnate, and simply wanted to see Uub's true power. He apologizes after the fight is over.
Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura's older brother Touya sets himself up as a Big Brother Bully who teases her almost non-stop to the extent that she often fantasizes about bullying him back, but he's actually quite a caring person and fiercely protective of her. Nonetheless, the act is successful enough to convince an All-Loving Hero like Sakura that he's nothing but a callous Jerkass.
Berserk - In the Black Swordsman and Conviction arcs of the manga Guts behaved in this manner because he has the Brand of Sacrifice, and therefore the demons are never going to leave him alone. While he is perfectly capable of defending himself against the demons, he doesn't want to have to worry about anyone else dying because of it. This gives the outward appearance that he is completely immoral, heartless, and downright sadistic. In one notable instance, Guts gives the daughter of an Apostle that he just killed a knife and tells her to kill herself (despite saving her life shortly thereafter.) She instead swears revenge on him. After he leaves it is revealed that he only said that so she would hate him, and to foster a desire for revenge that would give her a reason to keep living.
Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion is this. She legitimately cares for Shinji, and genuinely worries for him when he is in danger as he was in the "Sea of Dirac" incident. Other times she just seems treat most people rudely, though this is in an effort to hide her low self esteem and self-loathing: she intentionally pushes people away because she is scared of they will hurt her or they will think she is pitiful and worthless if they discover her real self. The same can be said to a degree for a few other characters in the series like Gendo Ikari and Misato.
Hayate from Prétear, particularly in the anime adaptation. Once the backstory is revealed, it becomes apparent that he has been acting mean towards Himeno out of fear that she will fall in love with him, just like Takako did in the past — whichdidn'tendwell. Not only does this fail to keep her from getting attached (especially once she learns his reasons), but he ends up falling in love with her.
Be honest here, if Code Geass's Lelouch Lamperouge didn't act like a complete dick whenever people called him out on his actions, fewer people would want him dead. He's still a dick, just not the one he pretends to be.
Zero Requiem in R2 especially had this, with Lelouch eventually getting everyone (no exaggeration) to hate him so that he could die and make Britannia and the world a better place.
Lampshaded in R2 episode 19, where Lelouch and Kallen are facing a firing squad. He puts on the facade with an obfuscating "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner to prevent her from making a Senseless Sacrifice by defending him and getting killed. As she's walking away, he whispers: "Kallen, you must live on."
Played straight in season 1 whenever Lelouch interacts with Kallen, in order to throw her off his trail from identifying him as Zero.
At the beginning of the manga, it's revealed that Ichigo had been carefully cultivating this kind of image when Kon, using his body, tears that image to shreds by romancing the females in his class. Ichigo is not happy. Ichigo's cold and distant behavior toward Keigo, Mizuiro and Tatsuki before going to rescue Orihime is also an example; he doesn't want them getting involved in the world of the Shinigami and getting hurt as Chad and Orihime already have.
Soifon deliberately acts hostile to her subordinates for the so that they can become stronger. This is especially true with her lieutenant, Omaeda, whom she motivates (through reverse psychology) to stay alive during the battle against Aizen's forces.
Uryuu so sincerely believes his father's jerkass attitude that he assumes Ryuuken is trying to kill him instead of restoring his powers as promised.* It was actually a brutal restoration technique that required the target's body and soul be pushed to the absolute limit before being shot by a spiritual arrow, forcing Ryuuken to make Uryuu think he was going to die for the technique to work at all. Ryuuken seems to encourage Uryuu to think the absolute worst about him. However, Isshin greatly trusts Ryuuken as both a colleague and friend and Ryuuken is also gentle and protective towards Ichigo and Orihime behind Uryuu's back. Flashbacks reveal that Ryuuken is a very decent man Beneath the Mask but prefers to appear uncaring for reasons that have been only partially explained.
Nico Robin in One Piece was already a bit detached from the crew when she first joined. However, she went into full Jerkass Facade in the Water Seven arc, trying to convince the other Straw Hats she had willingly betrayed them. Her reason for this was the bad guys were threatening them with the very attack that destroyed her home island if she didn't comply. She goes as far as to actively resist attempts to rescue her after the crew learns of this before coming to her senses.
Nami acted similarly in the Arlong Arc. While she initially hated pirates, she eventually found herself wanting to stay with the crew, but being unable to do so because of her obligation to buy back her village. As a such, when she sees her crewmates on the island, she falsely claims to have murdered Usopp and states that she was using the crew to gain money.
Boa Hancock seemed like a puppy-kickingVain Sorceress with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, even turning her own subjects into stone for allowing a man (Luffy) onto her island. However, when she saw Luffy protect her sister's brand, and thus their shared secret, as well as make the choice not to leave the island, but see his petrified friends revived, she allowed him into her castle and showed her brand. She explained that the Celestial Dragons who bought them as slaves when they were children burnt it into she and her sisters' backs to show them they were "less than human". Given what the Celestial Dragons were shown as capable of, spending four years with them as slaves would be no picnic, and this had lasting psychological effects on the three. The middle sister, Sandersonia, had a freak-out from just remembering. Thus, Hancock decided that she would no longer show weakness to anyone, including her own subjects. Nyon implied her crying to Luffy was the first time she showed any warmth in her. Naturally, Luffy understood and forgave her. She no longer has to pull this facade on Luffy, as she now loves him.Not that he cares...
Same goes with Whitebeard. When we first see him, he tore up Shanks' letter and demanded that he deliver his message personally, while arrogantly ignoring his nurses' warnings about drinking too much. And when Shanks did show up, they got into an argument about Ace and Blackbeard, with Whitebeard declaring that he is Whitebeard and he could do whatever he wanted. Turns out Whitebeard is very much aware of his mortality and how he isn't as strong as he used to be. And when one of his own comrades betrayed and stabbed him, he simply embraced the guy, calling him one of his sons and that he forgave him.
Adding to that, Whitebeard's refusal to recall Ace from hunting down Blackbeard is cover the fact that Ace went after Blackbeard completely on his own, ignoring specific orders from Whitebeard to not do that, and that the mess Ace is in is completely his own fault.
Chopper tends to insult people who compliment him. He likely got that from his mentor, Dr. Kureha, who chased him off Drum Island wielding her ornamental weapons to get him to pursue his dreams of becoming a pirate doctor. But his facade is very, very flimsy. He usually insults people while waving his arms cutely, or doing a happy dance.
Nami: "He's the type that can't hide their emotions..."
Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist is a prominent example of this. A good-looking soldier who only cares for promotions (and has sworn to protect his comrades and underlings using his position and power), dates several girls at the same time (so that people don't take him too seriously) cooks a girl alive for supposedly killing his best friend (and fakes her death to protect her from serious implications, in a most awesome way), constantly goes to a brothel/pub with a lot of girls (to gain information from the girls, who are part of his spy network, as is the pub owner - who happens to be his adoptive mother), uses military phones to call his supposed girlfriends (and to direct the 'girlfriends' in a coordinated attack), and whose assistant has to keep him in check (so he doesn't stray from the path of justice he set out for himself). But he really did commit genocide.
Roy very well may beis the best example of this trope - he's an Atoner who, in the process of acting like such a smug jerk that many people outside his inner circle - including the protagonist - dislike/distrust him, is determined to become Fuhrer and make up for his past misdeeds, even if it means that being tried for his war crimes will have him imprisoned or executed.
Greed (both times) counts too. The firstGreed refers to the chimeras he takes in as his possessions and the lengths that he'll go for them as "keeping them in top condition". The second Greed wants to rule the entire world, become God, etc., but as Ling eventually figures out, that's just so he doesn't have to admit all he really wants is to have friends.
Ed fits this trope as well, albeit to a lesser extent in the eyes of the audience because he's just a kid.
Ryuuji, from Tokyo Crazy Paradise force-feeds Tsukasa expensive candies to drive her further into debt to him— only the "candy" is actually antidote to poison.
Yuuko of ×××HOLiC pretends to be a selfish Hard-Drinking Party Girl who makes Watanuki do all her work when in actuality essentially everything she makes him do or every time she acts like a jerk, she's probably saving his life, teaching him, training him, or something like that. And he always falls for it.
Naturally, his companion Sakura notices something's amiss when Oogami had an almost tender look on his usually mask-like face when he euthanizes the dog and also when he saves the dead dog's puppy, who takes an immediate liking to Oogami despite Sakura's protests.
Gunslinger Girl. Jean maintains a cold demeanor towards his cyborg Rico, and hits her whenever she doesn't perform to standard. Seeing as the cyborgs are all going to die before adulthood as a result of their conditioning, he has good reason not to get too attached, especially since Jean still feels the loss of his sister Enrica. On rare occasions, however, this façade cracks, like when Rico is injured and falls into the sea during a battle and Jean desperately dives in to save her.
In X/1999 the protagonist Kamui Shirou is a Jerkass because he is involved in something big, namely The End of the World as We Know It, and he doesn't want to involve his two dear friends (Kotori and Fuuma) so he distances himself from them and acts cold to everybody around him to keep them away. Naturally he warms to them eventually, but then fate has its way with them.
Bridge Bunnies Mayl and Tayl from Heroic Age chew the eponymous protagonist out behind his back for seemingly giving in to the Smug Snake's plans and joining him aboard the fleet's flagship. But as surmised by the other characters and confirmed by Age himself, he's only doing this because the other Nodos will now be after him, putting any ship he's on in danger.
Ruka from Revolutionary Girl Utena arguably does this. On one hand, He deliberately spent the last week of his life making the girl he loved hate him with every fiber of her being, because it was the only way to get her out of the self-destructive holding pattern she'd been in for the entire series. On the other he did plenty of unnecessarily Jerkass things, such as assaulting Juri sexually, and humiliating Shiori by destroying the one relationship she felt good about. He had wanted to discredit Shiori, but that's no reason to utterly ruin her life.
Mayoi Hachifuji in Bakemonogatari. She knows that she is caught in or actually is a supernatural event and doesn't want anyone else to have to get involved. She's a 'snail,' otherwise known as a spirit that distracts people who are avoiding going somewhere and makes them follow her. She knows she's dead and that she won't reach her destination, so she tells anyone who talks to her that she hates them so they'll leave her alone and not waste their time on her.
Itachi Uchiha of Naruto. He doomed himself to a life of being hated by his only remaining family, who he truly loved all along, along with the stigma of being a missing-nin AND part of an evil organisation, all while hating violence and combat, and was ordered to kill his family in order to prevent another war from breaking out but he spared Sasuke. His actions were partly motivated out of love for Sasuke, and he put on a cold emotionless front acting like he just wanted to kill Sasuke and take his eyes (which wasn't true) and unfortunately Sasuke only found out about Itachi's true intentions after Itachi died. Well-Intentioned Extremist, anyone?
Sasuke shows shades of this in part one occasionally before his Face-Heel Turn, most notably in the Land of Waves arc when he jumps in front of Naruto to save him from Haku's attack, desperately thinking 'Please make it in time!' When Naruto asks him why he did it, he claims his body moved on his own, before calling him an idiot.
Chapter 547 of the manga reveals that Yashamaru never really hated his nephew Gaara, but was actually ordered by the Kazekage to tell him so. In reality, Yashamaru loved Gaara and the person he actually hated was his brother-in-law, the Fourth Kazekage, who was responsible for making the order to seal the Shukaku into Gaara and causing the death of Karura, his wife and Yashamaru's older sister.
Alucard of Hellsing acts like a Jerkass towards Seras because it's his way of toughening her up until she becomes a true vampire. When she does become one in Volume 7 he gets a little nicer.
He's still quite the bastard to anyone that isn't Integra, Seras, or the Queen, though, and the first thing he says to Seras after disappearing for thirty years is "You're loud, as always."
He may not realize he should act any different on his return, to someone as old as him, 30 years is like a few weeks or months at most, and Seras is a vampire as well, so he probably thinks she views it the same way as him, so he probably can't see any reason to act differently than he would otherwise. That and he probably found it hilarious.
Minami, the bishonen male lead of Cherry Juice, uses this early on in the manga to hide his romantic feelings for his sister, Otome.
Leorio in Hunter × Hunter actively cultivates an image of greedy lechery (well, he is a Handsome Lech...), because he doesn't want people to think of him as soft. However, the reason he always insists on the best prices and payment for everything? He wants to become so rich that he can afford to give any patient treatment (no matter how expensive) for free, because his best friend Pietro died due to lack of affordable healthcare.
Great in Violinist Of Hameln Shchelkunchik keeps complaining that everything is a pain, is a Deadpan Snarker to the Nth degree, taunts a foot tall fairy for being flat and goes so far as to slap a classmate for being "too friendly" to him. Dig in a little deeper, and you have one of the most dependable, trustworthy and mature(!) characters in the setting.
Alex from Nightschool initially comes across as an overly snarky, antisocial preteen with a strong aversion to admitting that she actually cares about anything. She has a very good reason for her behavior, though. She's been cursed so that anything or anyone that she says she likes or loves gets destroyed. Even without those words, showing affection means risking the subject coming to harm in some way.
Trip from Pokémon: Best Wishes has proven to be this as of his fourth appearance. Instead of being the jerkass he first comes off as, he has shown to care for his Pokémon and also helps Ash out despite the fact they are rivals and is annoyed by Ash's antics. And then you find out in his backstory that he was a Cheerful Child in the past.
Deconstructed in Hajime No Ippo. Kojima is a big fans of Ippo, so when he fights aginst Ippo, in order to make Ippo fight him seriously and to psych himself up, he deliberately insults Ippo and his coach. Apparently, the result is too well, the fight ended in two clean blows, first blow is Counter Attack from Kojima and the second is Ippo's Counter Attack against Kojima's attack which resulted in One-Hit KO. To make the things worse, even without those insults, Ippo will stay fight at his best despite his Nice Guy demeanor, and thanks to the nature of the One-Hit KO, Kojima can't remember his fight with Ippo, something he deeply regrets.
Though not so much in the anime, Shigure Sohma is this in the Fruits Basket manga. It takes a special kind of Jerkass to imply to others that you know the way to break a centuries-long curse that everyone is desperate to be free from, and withhold that information from your younger, more desperate cousins. Then, when exiled from the family for banging the mother of the rather temperamental Sohma leader (whom you really love), manipulate a rather harmless young woman who has absolutely nothing to do with your fucked up family into setting off events that will break the curse. But everything will be okay and the fandom will forgive you once everyone realizes you did it for everyone's good...it was a facade, right?
By the end of the first episode/chapter of Brave 10, Saizou is clearly this trope.
Osamu Sugo Future GPX Cyber Formula. At first, it looks like he Took a Level in Jerkass when he challenges Hayato and the other racers in the Double-One arc by using "dirty tricks" in races so he can get Hayato angry, but he just wanted to teach Hayato how to be a better racer as his eyesight problems began to worsen, which stemmed from the incident with Smith.
Hakaider/Saburo from Kikaider somewhat falls into this category; in Machine That Dreams he seems to legitimately lament be used by Professor Gill and that he and Dr. Komyoji's other robots "only puppets". Though when Jiro questions whether or not he is satisfied with that he proceeds to insult then attack him.
Maho Nishizumi from Girls und Panzer initially seems like an Ice Queen, but it's revealed that she acts as she does as part of fulfilling her obligations as family heir, which she does so that her younger sister Miho will be able to pursue tankery as she wishes.
The student council initially threatens Miho with expulsion if she doesn't do tankery, coming off as overbearing bullies in the process. They're hiding the real reason why they want her to do tankery so badly- if they don't win, the school will be shut down- out of a desire to avoid burdening her with that in her first year at the school.
Invoked by Gundam 00's Lyle Dylandy, because he's sorta taking his dead twin brother Neil's place in Celestial Being and wants to leave clear that, while he can become Lockon Stratos in the group and battlefield, he refuses to become Neil'sReplacement Goldfish.
In Bakuman。, Eiji Nizuma occasionally makes arrogant or stand-offish remarks, such as his comment for being first runner-up for an award essentially saying that while everyone else his age watched television or played video games, he was drawing manga (which is partly true, as he grew up in a remote area, and without the money for much of the entertainment kids his age enjoyed, spent his spare time drawing), as well as telling the artists who complain about him illustrating Iwase's Natural+ while also doing his own series that if they don't like that, they need only do better than he does. In reality, he wants to motivate his rivals to do better, since he not only enjoys drawing manga, but also reading it.
Ymir from Attack on Titan, to the extent that even her potentialLove Interest refers to her as having "the worst personality ever". She's actively abrasive towards others, constantly tossing out Armor Piercing Questions and mocking her comrades during their darkest moments. However, her being a Jerkass serves to challenge unhealthy behaviors or push people through trauma, allowing them to continue functioning until the mission is over. While her past remains a mystery, it's very clear it involved considerable misery and personal loss. However, her utter devotion to Krista and decision to risk her life for Reiner and Bertolt reveal a far more caring person hiding beneath multiple layers of snark.
In an early Spider-Man story Peter Parker started acting like a jerk around Betty Brant so that she wouldn't want to be in a relationship with him anymore. Betty had lost her brother who kept getting himself into danger, and Peter didn't want her to have to face a similar situation with her boyfriend.
Spider-Man initially treated the X-Men this way too.
Dr Allison Mann in Y: The Last Man maintains a cold façade to everyone she deals with (especially Yorick) after being dumped by her first lesbian girlfriend in college, and angrily denies that love is anything other than a biological reaction.
Night Thrasher sometimes came off as a Jerkass to the rest of the New Warriors and got kicked off the team twice as a result.
Inverted after Civil War where his brother is somewhat of a dick but everyone loves him anyway, except Jubilee, who isn't liked by her teammates because she's the only who doesn't put up with him.
In Legion of Super-Heroes, the Legion discovers that Ultra Boy hid a criminal past and set out to catch him. Only Phantom Girl objects that they should know him and that this is out of character. He flees and joins some pirates, until their plan comes to fruition and turns on them. He reveals that he had used his sight powers and learned their plans, and that they could not be overcome by a frontal attack, and so he had forged evidence to show he had been a criminal to get inside.
One of the reasons Back to the Klondike became such a popular story was for establishing this aspect of Scrooge McDuck's character.
Batman. Big time. Especially to his adopted son Dick Grayson. He kicked him out twice, replaced him, punched him and frequently hurts his feelings but it is hinted in some issues that Bruce does that to hide his feelings and that he actually loves Dick (as a son) and that he is the favourite child. Also, he says that he intentionally amped up his coldness and jerkassery as Dick was starting to go out on his own, even though he know it would cause Dick to be bitter towards him (which he eventually gets over), so that Dick wouldn't end up like him and keep his humanity. Batman seems to keep up his Jerkass Facade because he is aware of his own mortality. The fewer people who are attached to him, the fewer people will mourn when he finally messes up. This is, after all, the guy in the bat-themed combat suit facing off against sadistic, intelligent psychopaths on his safest nights. You know, when he's not helping friggin' Superman deal with threats that Big Blue can't handle alone. Depending on the Writer. Several times over the last two decades Batman has been written as a genuine Jerkass With A Heart Of Gold.
Nightwing can be a jerkass himself (guess where he got that from). However, he's pretty bad at it. He once tried that and started crying because, unlike Bruce, he is a lot more emotional. Probably the reason he is liked more than his mentor.
Arsenal has the whole jerk facade but he does that to hide his insecurities and when he is a jerk he is still not that bad. Sadly, it seems that he's become a genuine jerkass in Rise of Arsenal in the wake of his daughter's death, the loss of his arm, and falling back into drug abuse.
Wolverine is a genuine Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but he sometimes ups the jerkass part for the benefit of others. When Spider-Man apparently died, he made a pass at the grieving Mary Jane. She slapped him and furiously swore to find a way to kill him if he ever did that again. When Jarvis tried to call Logan out on it, he explained that he wanted to give Mary something to focus on other than grief, like anger.
One issue of Archie Comics had Reggie sit down beside a depressed Dilton, give him a pep talk, and offer to help him get the woman he had a crush on. When Dilton suspiciously asked what he wanted in return, Reggie only demanded he keep the entire thing a secret. He has a reputation to keep as a jerk, after all.
Plourr Illo of the X-Wing Series is somewhere between this and Jerk with a Heart of Gold. She casually insults strangers and teammates alike, often called out on it, though the teammates are used to this and return in kind. She also hates incompetence and is suspicious of most people. But it doesn't take much to show that she does care - and in the setting she was born to she's more restrained and diplomatic, her harshness fading except when talking to people she genuinely doesn't like.
In Peggy SueFan FicThe Second Try, Asuka invoked this trope in the original timeline to prevent people from getting close to her emotionally. After the Third Impact, she gradually got over the need to do so, but, back in the past, she was still forced to continue the charade, even though she no longer wanted to prevent anybody from finding out that she and Shinji were time-travelers. She found the act of acting this trope out to be emotionally distressing, and childish.
Films — Animated
Mr. Nebbercracker from the film Monster House is actually a very nice old man, but deliberately acts mean and cranky. He does this to keep children away from the Monster House so it won't attack them.
Ethan Edwards from The Searchers. Fighting in the US Civil War traumatized him so much that he sought solace in giving up his humanity and wallowing in his hatred of the Comanche - who have massacred his sister's family, gee, why do you think he'd hold that against them? But when he gets a chance to prove it by killing his niece who's been adopted by the Comanche, he doesn't do it. She's been kidnapped and raped by a Comanche warrior— in Ethan's mind it would be better to die rather than live with that shame. The fact that he doesn't kill her proves that he fits this trope. In fact he is infuriated that she has apparently gone native, adopting the ways of the people who killed her parents and brothers and raped and murdered her elder sister. What else could she have done? but to Ethan it feels like a betrayal.
The Dark Knight Saga Christopher Nolan's Batman film reboot has Batman deciding Bruce Wayne should be an arrogant, lazy, alcoholic, philandering jerkass Rich Idiot with No Day Job (imagine Paris Hilton as a guy), both in order to deflect suspicions that he's really Batman, and to prevent long-lasting relationships from developing (which also helps keep suspicion down). There was also an element of him "saving himself" for Rachel. He specifically invokes this to get the innocent party guests out of his house, and thus out of harm's way, calling everyone present a bunch of moochers and hangers-on. Ouch. Its a wonder he was able to get them back for that fundraising party in the second movie.
Constantine. John Constantine is extremely rude to Angela Dodson for some time after meeting her. He later tells her why:
"You don't wanna know what's out there, trust me... Your sister embraced her gift, you denied yours. Denial is a better idea. It's why you're still alive. Stick with me, that will change. I don't need another ghost following me around."
Stepanak in Down Periscope actively tries to sabotage his Navy career and get kicked off the Stingray by being an unhelpful, snarky and insubordinate jerkass. Later, when given an opportunity to reveal their location during Silent Running Mode, he stays quiet. His CO actually calls him on it.
Cmdr. Tom Dodge: You missed a hell of an opportunity. One peep outta you and we woulda been in a lot of trouble. Stepanak: No, sir. That would've been unethical. I'm only out to screw myself. That would've screwed everybody.
The Social Network teases that Mark may be this. Although he communciates to people rudely in the film, he genuinely seems like he just wants friends and for Facebook to succeed, and cares for his friend, even though he might have screwed him out of a deal, he still realized what he done and tries to friend Erica after being somewhat rude to her throughout the film.
Grouchy Smurf in The Smurfs confesses to a green M&M plushie that he only uses his grouchiness to hide his true feelings.
Dexter lets Mike think he's blackmailing Tracy for revenge, he jokes about his drinking problem, and half his dialogue consists of snarky remarks. This might seem like Jerkass behaviour, but the truth is he's trying to save Tracy from blackmail, he's given up drinking, and his snarkiness covers a lot of genuine feeling. At the end of the movie, when Tracy is feeling ashamed and miserable, she turns to Dexter for comfort, and finds him surprisingly sympathetic.
The 1943 comedy The Meanest Man in the World stars Jack Benny as a kindhearted lawyer who finds he must adapt one of these to land clients.
The Distinguished Gentleman: The protagonist cons his way into Congress and, at first, treats being there as a lark and happily acts like what he thinks a stereotypical Congressman should be, voting frivolously, dissing constituents, and sucking up to lobbyists. Then it starts to hit home that he's toying with real people's lives.
Rand al'Thor pulls this trick a few times early in The Wheel of Time, to distance himself from his friends out of fear he may harm them. Unfortunately, as time goes on, events conspire to make this much less of a facade. Also, it doesn't help that the women that love him can see right through the facade.
This pops up in Discworld from time to time: most of the main characters fall into this, including the witch Granny Weatherwax (a gruff bitchy old woman with biting sarcasm who's too proud to admit how much she likes her friends, but who is never mean to anyone who can't fight back or doesn't deserve it), and pre-Men at Arms Sam Vimes (Captain of the Night Watch, a sarcastic pessimistic alcoholic who lived a pauper's life to provide for widows and children of men who'd fallen in the Watch).
In Dean Koontz's Hideaway, the character Regina does this briefly. She is afraid that Hatch and Lindsey will only adopt her for a little while before they get sick of her and bring her back to the orphanage, which will hurt her deeply. So instead of going through that pain, she tries to scare them off from adopting her in the first place.
In Spider Robinson's novel Very Bad Deaths, a main character is a natural telepath whose perceptions of others' minds are extremely painful to him. Fortunately, his perception has a limited physical range, so he just needs to keep his distance from others. In college he repels company, not by jerkass behavior, but simply by never bathing. Later in life that isn't enough, his range has grown longer, so he lives alone on an island off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Puck from The Sisters Grimm is the perfect example of this trope. He pulls gross and disturbing pranks on Sabrina, calls her rude names, and insists that she is the worse thing that happened to him. Yet, despite all of this, he's always there to save her life and teared up when Sabrina nearly fell off the platform while battling dragons. They are married in the future. He also cried at his father's funeral
Carnival from the Deepgate Codex series, so goddamn much. She tries her very hardest to act as though none of the people she knows mean much of anything to her, even after she nearly gets killed trying to rescue one of her best friends—but by then we all know better.
An unintentional version appears in Brewsters Millions and its various adaptations; Monty Brewster is a decent and good-hearted man, but because he can't tell anyone why he has crazily spend a huge amount of money within a short period of time (it's so that he can inherit an even larger amount when he's done so), he frequently comes across either as insanely reckless or an irresponsible, feckless jackass.
From World War Z, Paul Redeker, who penned the eponymous Redeker Plan in response to the zombie outbreak. He was utterly reviled as the worst of South Africa's apartheidists who revised that government's "Plan Orange", the plan to insure the survival of the country's white minority. Then apartheid ended and he went into political exile. Then the zombie outbreak occurred and men kicked his door down and, rather than kill him in a fit of last minute vengeance, asked if he had a plan. He did. Being the ultimate in uncaring dispassion, his plan called for the government to save those who mattered and leave behind those who didn't, specifically as zombie bait to relieve pressure on the beleaguered government. It involved deliberately sacrificing a significant chunk of humanity to a prolonged, gruesome death in order to save those who could fight the menace. Each government official at the meeting hearing his plan reviled him and said nothing. Except the book's stand-in for Nelson Mandela, who said that "This plan, this man, will save our people" and embraced him. Then it turns out that Redeker was not dispassionate. He was so passionate, so empathic that he had to block off all emotion so as not to feel others' pain. That hug broke him, rendered him psychopathic, with a split personality. His plan was implemented, and it saved humanity, and he ended up in a hospital, writing his own biography, believing himself to be a man who had worked intimately with Paul Redeker.
Raymond Shaw of The Manchurian Candidate is three things: stoic, haughty, and aloof. The narrator calls him one of the most unlikeable men in America. It's a convincing act that's taken a life of its own. Deep down, Raymond is a fragile Man Child who mainly acts this way to deal with his terrible mother.
Edward Cullen early in Twilight was a jerk to Bella to push her away from him because he didn't want to be tempted to drink her blood. How he resisted the temptation to do the same to the other students is a mystery, though Bella's blood being Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious is definitely a factor.
Edward does this again in New Moon; when he decides to leave in the belief that Bella will be safer without him and his family around, he claims that he never really loved her, and that she was just a distraction to him, in the hope that she'll move on if she has no hope of him ever coming back.
Artfully demonstrated in Starship Troopers, with Sergeant Zim and the rest of the instructors at Camp Currie. They are complete jerks to the recruits, but know when to try to help them rather than continuing the pressure. The narrator overhears a conversation between two of them that explains just how much they care for the young adults who will eventually be sent out to fight. In the book, all support functions are done by civilians; soldiers fight.
Kev in Derek. Although he seems to be little more than a sex-crazed alcoholic at first, it is shown in later episodes that he genuinely cares about the people he's around.
Oliver Queen in Arrow, in an attempt to help keep his identity as the vigilante 'Hood' a secret (his reasoning being that no one could suspect a real douchebag of being a hero).
Oliver Queen from Smallville, has shades of this trope. However, Hawkman calls him out on it.
In Dark Angel, Alec's defense mechanism is to act like a total jerk. It's a survival trick he learnt during his years at Manticore to hide his true feelings and bury his past.
Sawyer in LOST, mainly due to self-loathing. His life was destroyed by a con man so when he ended up as one himself he began to feel that he deserved to be treated like crap (though considering all the stuff he did prior to arriving on the island, he does kind of deserve it). Kate does call him out on it once she realizes what he's doing, though:
Kate: You try too hard, Sawyer. I ask you to help a woman who can't breathe, and you want me to kiss you? Nobody's that disgusting.
May apply to Torchwood's Owen Harper, since what got him into Torchwood was the death of the love of his life by alien tumor... which he dealt with at one point by nearly date-raping a woman. Torchwood needs therapists.
Dr. Kelso hides behind a facade of Jerkassdom. Many would just write him off as being a Jerkass, but as shown in "My Jiggly Ball," (where it's shown that he puts on a happy face when walking around the hospital, but the moment he steps off hospital grounds he's just as saddened by death and sickness as anyone else) the choices Kelso makes actually affect him deeply - he just finds it a better working environment if his colleagues don't know. This is also proven in "My Chopped Liver," when Kelso's dog dies and he refuses to leave his office out of fear that others in the hospital would see him crying.
In "His Story IV," it's revealed that when interpersonal strife starts to make the hospital staff less effective, Kelso deliberately goes out of his way to do something blatantly Jerkass-worthy so as to unite the staff in common hatred of him.
Dr Cox. He will verbally abuse even those closest to him for the tiniest of slights and faults, is a borderline alcoholic egomaniac and refuses to show affection to anyone. However, he's only this way partly because of his past (abusive parents) and that over the years any optimism he had left has been thoroughly beaten out of him. But even after all of this he cares about each patient he sees. He's tough on others because it's the only way he knows to teach the younger doctors and motivate his patients. In his softer moments, he'll show that he's just a broken man that keeps struggling on day after day, and that he does care about those around him but he's just too afraid to show it.
Jordan shows this too. She acts like she couldn't care less about everyone, including Cox. However, in later seasons she's genuinely supportive of Cox in his darker moments and acts as a mother figure to the other characters on occasion.
Barney from How I Met Your Mother. His selfishness and womanizing are just a cover up for his insecurities.
Yuuto Sakurai from Kamen Rider Den-O comes off as rude, overly serious, and quick to anger (especially with his partner Deneb). As the series progresses, however, we learn that his ability to become a Kamen Rider comes with a hefty price: each time he transforms, some of the memories people have of him are erased, meaning that the more he fights, the fewer people know he even exists.
In "Mirror, Mirror" Kirk had to adopt one of these in order to keep the crew of the I.S.S. Enterprise from getting any more suspicious of him than they already were. After the guard who foiled Mirror Chekov's effort to assassinate Kirk mentioned that Chekov had been promising to make him an officer, Kirk hired him to his personal guard, telling him that now he was on the officer track and might even get promoted to Captain. When the man agreed to this rather over-enthusiastically, however, Kirk then punched him out and said "Not on my ship."
Emin Maritza from the classic DS9 episode "Duet." And how!!
Counselor Troi was forced to adopt one for TNG's "Face of the Enemy", while she impersonated Major Rakal of the Tal Shiar, the Romulan Secret Police.
Major Charles Emerson Winchester on M*A*S*H appears to be one in a Christmas episode when he receives numerous packages of what appear to be chocolates from a Boston confectioner and refuses to share them with anyone. He's later shown donating them, in the middle of the night, to a local orphanage and explaining that his family has a tradition of doing acts of kindness and charity at Christmas, but with an insistence of remaining anonymous. At the end of the episode Klinger learns of what Charles has done and agrees to keep it a secret.
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries' Barbara Havers - while she is genuinely brutally honest - is so deeply insecure that she developed this front as a defense mechanism. Lynley calls her out on it, and as time goes on, she's been able to let go of it more and more.
Lynley: You don't have to do that. Barbara: What? Lynley: Push me away.
Better Off Ted: Veronica could be the poster child for this trope. Although she comes off as uncaring and borderline sociopathic at times, occasionally the facade will drop, usually with Ted who becomes her confidant (such as in the second season premiere when she discusses her desire to have children).
Eliot Spencer from Leverage. In their Christmas episode:
Kid: I don't get it. Are you nice, or are you mean? Eliot:(Passes him a present and puts a finger to his lips)
Elliot rarely acts like a actual jerk (except to Hardison). More of a Scary Tough Guy Facade.
Rudy Wade from Misfits is probably THE definition of this Trope. His 'superpower' is the ability to split into two people. The only catch being that one of them is his true, emotional self while the other is his facade.
Dr. John Becker of Becker is certainly this to an extent. Sure, he's really grouchy and kind of a jerk, but cares about his patients, especially in the pilot when he uses his own money to buy needed medication for a boy with HIV.
Rex Evans on Necessary Roughness put up the façade back when he was still in the closet, both because he was miserable about having to hide his partner, and because he was afraid that making friends would lead to someone finding out his secret. It didn't help that the team's rising star, Toes Kitteridge, was a virulent homophobe.
JAG: Admiral Chegwidden is a mild version of this trope. Even though he often hides behind military protocol and the authority that comes with being an admiral to distance himself from interpersonal relationships beyond the strictly professional, he deeply cares for the people that work under him.
In Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1, Prince Hal monologues about how he's acting like a jerk so that
When this loose behavior I throw off And pay the debt I never promised, By how much better than my word I am, By so much shall I falsify men's hopes; And like bright metal on a sullen ground, My reformation, glittering o'er my fault, Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes Than that which hath no foil to set it off. I'll so offend, to make offence a skill; Redeeming time when men think least I will.
In Henry V Hal goes on to become, to everyone's surprise, a great king who trounces the French in battle through the sheer power of his epic monologuing.
This is a common theory to explain Hamlet's assholish behavior towards Ophelia; that he was pretending to be horrible, despite loving her, in order to distance her from the horrors that were to come.
Possible example: Albel Nox from Star Ocean Till The End Of Time. The commonly accepted Fanon here is that he doesn't let people close because he doesn't want to deal with losing them, after his father sacrificed himself for him.
Neku, from The World Ends with You seems to be like this. When he is forced to say what is on his mind, he constantly states that he doesn't want to get close to other people because they'll only end up betraying him. Although, this might not actually be a facade.
Even when he loses most of his Jerkass tendencies toward the end of the game (and in Another Day), he still tends to be quite the Deadpan Snarker.
Squall, the main character of Final Fantasy VIII, chooses to act like a cold, insensitive bastard because he believes that if he forms any kind of emotional investment, it will be broken eventually, so he's better off just being a complete jerk to everyone rather than deal with the pain of loss again after the loss of his big sister.
Zelos from Tales of Symphonia definitely fits the bill. He's easily the brashest of the main characters and doesn't seem to care one wit if the things he says are offensive or inappropriate. If one pays enough attention to his dialogue though, there are numerous examples of him saying things that show off a more sensitive and observant side to him, most of which are quickly covered up by him making yet another crass joke. This hints at the true nature of most things he says or does being an act specifically designed to get people to either ignore him or think of him poorly, borne from the severe trust issues he developed over the years.
Especially evident in the skit "For Depressed People." In response to Corrine's death, he says the party "shouldn't worry about things that are already over." Regal, Genis and Presea chew him out for it, but once they leave Zelos reveals he's only saying that because he thinks the way they're acting - walking on eggshells around Sheena - is only making her more depressed.
Asuna/Flannery from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Emerald tries to be intimidating and scary because this is the way she believes a Gym Leader should behave. She's very bad at it, and after being defeated by the player, she gives the facade up entirely.
Waka from Ōkami plays this up through most of the game, going so far as to outright attack you the first two times you meet him for no justifiable reason except to be a Jerkass and tell you how Ammy's become weak (despite the fact that you just beat him). He's constantly riling up Issun and acts in such an untrustworthy way that the heroes aren't even sure which side he's on. When you're fighting the final boss, though, it's revealed that he's been on your side the whole time and was working to protect Nippon from Yami's darkness, performing a Heroic Sacrifice that almost kills him so that Amaterasu can finish Yami off.
Silk Fox of Jade Empire is a caring and honorable person. She is also very arrogant, aloof, and dismissive of 'peasants'. The player has a choice over whether she keeps the facade when she becomes Empress or drops it in favor of her actual personality.
Snake starts off like this in Metal Gear Solid, a grumpy "Stick to the mission" type who apparently has little patience for romantic overtures and idealistic pursuits, but it's strongly implied - if not outright stated - that he acts like this to protect himself from even more emotional/psychological trauma. He later softens up into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold - though willing to be a Manipulative Bastard for the greater good.
An even better example would have to be Metal Gear Solid 3s' The Boss who is a fake defector. Neither Big Boss nor player find this out until after they kill her.
Sanaki from the Tellius games. When the Greil Mercenaries show up in Begnion palace, Sanaki initially dismisses Ike and Elincia's plea for help, sends the Greil Mercenaries to do seemingly mundane and random tasks, all the while insulting Ike as he's a "commoner mercenary". Once Ike figures out with the help of Soren and Titania that Sanaki has a plan to expose her corrupt senators, she becomes a lot more friendly to the Greil Mercenaries. After Ike helps her out with her plan, Sanaki convinces Ike to allow Elincia to make him a Crimean lord, and sends quite a bit of Begnion troops to Ike's aid.
Zero from Mega Man X and Zero straddles this with Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Deep down he is a nice guy who fights for the people he believes in, but has been betrayed by so many allies - including Iris, a girl he had feelings for - and fought in so many wars he's practically forced to assume a cold, uncaring facade.
In some installments of the Dynasty Warriors series, this is part of Zhuge Liang's story mode. Other characters think he's a cold, scheming jerk, but he's willing to bear responsibility for some of Shu's more ruthless moves if it means Liu Bei's compassionate reputation remains intact.
Liara T'Soni of Mass Effect adopts one of these between games both to operate in the galactic underworld and due to guilt over handing Shepard's body over to Cerberus. Happily, she drops the facade at the conclusion of Lair of the Shadow Broker and becomes warm towards Shepard once again.
Rizwan from Suikoden Tierkreis continuously abuses her daughter Manaril to use her power to read False Chronicles, which result is used to develop the Magedom's technology. Considering how the Magedom works, she has to do this in order to survive, and in the end, she cares for her daughter all along.
Shinjiro Aragaki in Persona 3. Played almost humorously when he's unsuccessful, but becomes rather tragic when you realize just how far he's willing to go for those he cares about.
Dallas in inFAMOUS was forced by Kessler all along into making Cole bad publicity.
Garrett of the Thief series. A genuinely noble Anti-Hero with a good sense of humour, but a certified prick on the outside. Nice people do not live long in the City.
Inspector Cabanela from Ghost Trick seems like a smarmy Jive Turkey who's obsessed with promotion and maintaining a "spotless record". Turns out his obsession with getting promoted was so he could get in a position to oversee the cases handled by the Special Investigation Unit and thus help his friend and partner, Inspector Jowd.
Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning spends a good chunk of the game hiding her own uncertainty, anger, fear and confusion from the others by perpetuating this image of herself, until Character Development kicks in (but even before it kicked in, there were a few moments where either her reactions or the narration clue us in).
Narrator (Vanille): (during an early cutscene) Lightning was suffering. Reaching out to us. But none of us could see it.
Ragna acts like a standoff-ish Jerkass and Terror Hero to drive people away from him, partly because he's a wanted criminal and loner by nature, and partly because the Artifact of Doom on his right arm saps people's life-force to sustain itself. He's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold really.
Tomoki in Canvas 2. In fact, she's so used to it that she's scared people will hate her if she gets the surgery she needs and refuses to get it.
The princess Lesteena in Eien no Aselia hides the fact that she's actually one of the nicest people in the cast by acting cold, callous and dismissive towards everyone. When the king is assassinated, she drops the callous and dismissive parts and most of the coldness.
Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night. Her personality in the early parts of the game is a Jerkass Facade. It's especially obvious in Heaven's Feel, although there it's for a good reason.
Archer also uses a jerkass facade on Rin and Saber, as he plans on killing his past self and then disappearing.
Yaginuma in Kara no Shoujo acts like a jerk to keep people from getting too close to him as he can't bear a repeat of what happened to his sister. At first, this is an Informed Attribute but then during one of the endings we get to see him meet with Kuchiki Chizuru and he's actually fairly nice to her.
Hugh O'Conner from Ace Attorney. He acted like a jerk because of his reputation as a genius. Also, because he believed his friends abandoned him after finding out he wasn't a genius and was getting perfect scores thanks to bribes. Drops the facade and proves he might be pretty skilled after all at the end of 5-3.
Diane of El Goonish Shive has a very convincing facade. It's only when one of her friends dissolves into tears that we see that she's really a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. In filler, we see her praising her friends' A- on a test.
[The Order of the Stick Eugene Greenhilt]], or at least when Roy was 8, when he refuses to try to get Xykon with Right-Eye, because he reckons that Xykon would go after his family if things went South.
Lucy of Bittersweet Candy Bowl puts of a harsh facade, but when she is around her pets (or really distressed) it falls away from her, showing her true (much sweeter) nature.
Karkat Vantas of Homestuck. Types in all caps, insults every one of his friends relentlessly, and also does his best to help them and blames himself for every death.
Sasha Hunter in Greek Ninja, and as it turns out, Hashimoto Daichi.
The Nostalgia Critic is legitimately a dick, but emphasizes that side as best as he can with newbies, mostly because he doesn't want to be seen as the pathetic weakling he really is. They always eventually see through him.
In The Gamers Alliance, Ronove, Dreadlord of the NorthernHorde, acts like a generic cruel overlord in front of his peers and enemies, but also occasionally shows a quirky side which most accept as remnants of his former goofy, amnesiac personality (most notably him munching on cake and sand gnome legs). He has shown a less evil persona recently but quite subtly. He let his caught human friends, with whom he had been travelling with during his amnesiac days, flee a demon-occupied city alive while weaving a convincing enough tale to his superiors for the seemingly "evil" reasons he let the escape happen. He takes over the torturing of his former, captured master Omaroch seemingly because he enjoys the cruel act, but in fact it's because letting others torture Omaroch would be far more severe than what he ends up doing to him. He openly manipulates Refan, Omaroch's son, but does it for Refan's own good because he sees Refan's demonic side useful and allowing the man to grow into a warrior who doesn't have to fear for his life anymore. However, Ronove harbors more complex plans than most people think, and even the one person who realizes that things don't quite add up as far as his actions go is still being manipulated by him into believing one thing while the truth is actually quite different. It's thus clear that he has some sense of honour and he still feels sympathy for his former travelling companions, but he's also capable of acts of Cruel Mercy by twisting seemingly benevolent acts into something far more sinister.
Theodore Tugboat, of all characters, in the episode "Bumper Buddies". Foduck playfully bumps him, not realising that it hurts so Theodore avoids him. When Foduck asks if they're still friends, Theodore's answer is "Foduck, I am not your friend anymore." The Narrator then says "I'm still not sure if Theodore meant it, he just didn't want Foduck to bump him anymore.".
In The Movie for Ed, Edd n Eddy, it's revealed that Eddy's greedy and selfish attitude was all an act to impress his brother, who is a bigger Jerkass then he (or anyone, even Kevin and Sarah) could ever hope to be.
It could even be argued that Zuko was trying to emulate his father and sister who were jerkasses with no facade, as they were the "proper" and successful Fire Nation royalty that he and Iroh weren't. Eventually he realized that their selfish if not sociopathic stances were ruining the Fire Nation and he drops the facade of being an obedient prince to do what's right for everyone.
In the King of the Hill episode "Bobby Goes Nuts", Bobby is tired of being picked on by the bullies at school, so he goes to the gym in order to get tougher— but the only class that isn't full already is a self-defense class for women, where he learns that a man's weak point is his groin. He beats the bullies with this technique, but then continues to do it to anyone who bothers him in the slightest, becoming a bully himself. Eventually, he goes too far and kicks Hank, who gets Peggy to bully him until he kicks her— which, since she doesn't have testicles, doesn't work so well. This finally jars him out of meeting all his problems with the same unthinking response.
Moe Syzlak, from The Simpsons, tries to hide his good deeds with a protectiveness normal people would reserve for hiding evil deeds.
Ned: I know you! You're the guy at the hospital who reads to sick children?
Moe: ... if this gets out, the next words you say will be muzzled by your own butt.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Babs Seed. She only acted like a bully to avoid being bullied by Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, and that she was bullied back at Mainhattan.
In Littlest Pet Shop (2012), Wiggles McSunbask doesn't want to be a bully, but his fearsome appearance (he's an alligator) scares everyone around him so he just embraced that image.
Drill Sergeants usually are like this, due to their occupation demanding them to toughen up their recruits, and this usually by degrading them as much as possible without mercy so they will set their goal higher and become stronger because of it. Their occupation is to train the recruits, not to make them mentally ill, so it is vital for the drill sergeant to recognize when one of his recruits is obviously affected in the wrong way by the training, and try getting said recruits help instead of more drilling. After all, since almost every drill sergeants have lives outside the military, most are actually nice people, and will notice when something is wrong with the recruits.
Many Internet forums have their Resident Freaks and Jackasses. On average it's a total facade because no normal person is that stupid, that perverted. Sometimes the facade slips.
John Lennon until The Seventies, where he started to deal with his problems and admitted that part of his bitter unhappiness was that he wasn't actually that badly off and he was still unhappy, and acted like a Jerkass to push people away.
For some people, this is a response to sadness or anger. They push people away because they either don't want help or don't want to be a burden.