Dan Hibiki: Street Fighter or streetest
Master Tang: Pay no attention to Wimp Lo, we purposely trained him wrong... as a joke.
: If you've got an ass, I'll kick it!
Characters, often in the form of Easter Eggs
, deliberately unbalanced in the negative sense. They mainly have a humorous value
and the fandom often likes them due to their sheer awkwardness or strangeness. This is mainly a trope of fighting games. Joke characters are sometimes used by especially proficient players to beat other players, mainly for bragging rights.
Note this is not the same thing as a Easter Egg
where the player's appearance simply switches (like a redone sprite) or a Fighting Clown
(a character who simply looks
silly but plays well). Part and parcel of Cherry Tapping
. Compare Blessed with Suck
and What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?
? If this character happens to have some worthwhile utility, they're a Lethal Joke Character
. If they take a considerable level in badass
after a while, they have Magikarp Power
. Sometimes, if this character becomes popular enough, expect the fans to turn them into a Memetic Badass
and the developers to turn them into a Lethal Joke Character
Part of Competitive Balance
. See also Joke Item
and Fake Special Attack
(which they are likely to use). Contrast with Purposefully Overpowered
, which is the opposite.
Can overlap with Plucky Comic Relief
open/close all folders
- The Can parts in Custom Robo for the Gamecube are basically less powerful versions of the parts you start the game with. The Can Legs decrease all capabilities, while the Can body is ridiculously weak and easy to knock down.
- The DS version has the Chick Robo. Which is a baby bird with horrible stats and all of its guns shoot chickens.
Beat 'Em Up
- PS2 beat-em'-up Urban Reign has William Bordin, who can take only two to three punches at most or a single submission hold before going down. Especially annoying, considering he's the Final Boss and the hardest character to unlock!
- If you manage to beat Bayonetta's lost chapter Angel Slayer (big emphasis on if) you unlock Little King Zero, a legless skeleton with a beard (yeah…) that talks only in high pitched grunts. In combat, he's just as effective as Bayonetta and has the same powers and weapons. The problem is… there is no such thing as Scratch Damage with him. Any tiniest hit will take off his entire lifebar, leaving only his Last Chance Hit Point. Which means he can be instantly killed even by a single Decoration (the weakest among the weakest enemies) ! Needless to say, beating the game above Easy Mode with him by using no items officially makes you a badass.
- Most of Gourmet Sentai Bara Yarou's secret characters are worthless.
- Jerk, Mr. Phlegm, and Acolyte's only attack is a Suicide Attack. You only have one life in this game.
- Oh Damn is slow and can't attack at all.
- Hand Knife and Appliance have only one attack and die in one hit. Appliance's one attack isn't even any good.
- Swimmer can only move by hopping, making him very awkward to control.
- Piko Piko would've been one of the better secret characters if it weren't for her poor recovery rate. If she's knocked down, she's as good as dead.
- Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle has Unicorn Jabu, known for losing pretty much every battle he was in during the anime. In the game, while all the other characters have two or three Cosmo attacks, he has only one, that's pretty hard to aim, it's not very damaging and it's fairly useless during the actual stages, only being somewhat useful againt bosses (and even then it's hard to connect it properly). He als has the worst stat growth in the game, gaining only 2 attack points per level up. That means that if the player doesn't feed him thousands upon thousands of Cosmo Points, even at Lv. 99 he'll have less than 300 Attack, less than a third of the cap and effectively being unable to damage any boss on any difficulty beyond Hard. And the kicker? He's a DLC character going for no less than U$ 5,00.
- The Puella Magi Madoka Magica fangame Grief Syndrome has Homura, who has the worst stats in the game, but some of the most useful abilities. However, as an Easter Egg, it allows you to play as Homura before the beginning of the series. "Moemura" keeps the awful stats, and replaces the machine guns, rocket launchers, and mortars with a Deagle, a shotgun, and a golf club, and her pipe bombs don't explode on contact like Homura's do, leaving her attacks with a slight delay. You can imagine how well this works in combat. She's not completely useless, largely thanks to Time Stop, but she has a much harder time finishing the game than any other character. Then again, she can hit her pipe bombs like golf balls.
Collectible Card Games
- Magic: The Gathering is full of cards that seem underpowered or even useless, such as One With Nothing and Norin the Wary, that exist solely for Player Archetypes who like to try and make a workable deck out of such cards.
- The prize for "Worst Card In The Game" unquestionably goes to Wood Elemental, which requires you to sacrifice Untapped forests to power up. Destroying lands sets you back hard. Destroying unused lands sets you back harder. Destroying unused lands to power a 4-mana cost creature that can be killed by a 10-cent doom blade and has no other abilities is beyond idiotic.
- In a similar vein, Yu-Gi-Oh! has an amazing number of cards that have no conceivable use, or that simply don't do their job well. Witness Thousand-Eyes Idol, a monster with the lowest stats possible (0 attack and 0 defense) and no effect. Then again, some of these cards eventually become Lethal Joke Characters...to wit, Thousand-Eyes Idol. Fuse him with Relinquished, and you get the (now banned in advanced format) Thousand-Eyes Restrict, which FREEZES EVERY MONSTER ON THE FIELD, and steals whichever of your opponent's monsters you want to copy its stats. (Granted, most people used other methods to get Thousand-Eyes Restrict out rather than intentionally putting a monster in the deck that can't do anything on its own.
- Shapesnatch due to his "horrible power". Ironically it is amongst the best when it comes to low-stat normal monsters, and certainly scores points for his jaunty bow tie.
- In general, the early sets were loaded with relatively low-stat normal monsters—nowadays it's rare to even see anyone using a normal monster unless they have other cards that require them.
- A notable one is Fusionist, a Fusion monster (requiring three cards to get out) that actually has less power than one of its pieces (which was already pathetically low) and no effect. And it's a rare!
- It seems to be a tradition for sets, starting with Tactical Evolution's Broken Bamboo Sword (which is actually Magikarp Power) to have one card with a completely detrimental or useless effect. Fine forces you to discard two cards, An Unfortunate Report lets your opponent attack you twice, Cold Feet makes it impossible for you to play Spells or Traps. While you can potentially use these cards in very specific combos, they're complete dead draws otherwise.
- The Imakuni? cards in Pokémon. They have effects ranging from confusing your own Pokémon to forcing both players to sing as loud as they can. No really.
- The most famous Joke Character is probably Dan Hibiki of the Street Fighter series. He was created as a joke about SNK's Art of Fighting and King of Fighters games, whose protagonists borrowed heavily from the Street Fighter games.
- SNK later would make fun from him on SVC Chaos, along with ascending him to the mid-boss range.
- Even Demitri of Darkstalkers hates Dan and wouldn't even take a sip of blood from him. "Only the beautiful and strong can serve me. You fail on both counts!"
- The Chairperson from Rival Schools apparently took weekend classes in Dan's martial art, Saikyo. And it shows. Unless she's your assistant instead of your main fighter, that is.
- Dan Hibiki also has the most useless drop pattern of the entire Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo cast: His pattern is all red. Bear in mind that clearing a gem also clears all adjacent gems of the same color, and all gems of the same color adjacent to those, and so on... Basically, the instant Dan's counter gems hit zero, a single red crash gem can completely counter every attack Dan has sent since the last such counterattack.
- And then in Street Fighter IV Dan becomes a freaking beast. His martial art style Saikyo-ryu (which literally translates into the "Strongest School") was presumably meant in ironic jest. Not so funny anymore, is it? Ken's ultimate attack is the Shoryuken. Ryu's is the Hadoken. Dan doesn't need either one: When his ultimate attack connects, he just pounds you mercilessly.
- Well... His flying kick in Alpha 3 was pretty amazing.
- High-speed Fierce Punch anyone? Granted, you have to get alarmingly close to benefit from the speed, but it's handy if you're in close quarters.
- It also helps that his moves in SFIV have deceptively high priority. In other words, quite a few moves of his when trading blows, even against some Ultras, have a tendency to beat them out completely.
- Meat from Mortal Kombat was a hidden character that was like this. It initially served as a skin, created by art director Tony Goskie, for each fighter in Mortal Kombat 4. The name "Meat" was simply a designation given to the model so it could be used in the game. It was later decided to make him a playable character as part of a hidden Easter egg, albeit one with an almost nonexistent backstory (pretty much nothing other than being a one of Shao Khan's failed experiments). For a long time, whether he was a real character at all was debated among fans, and it came as a big surprise then he was actually included later in Mortal Kombat Armageddon (with somewhat more of a story, but still not much of one).
- Norimaro in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter.
- Roll in the original Marvel vs. Capcom. Servbot joins her in this category in the sequel.
- Somewhat helped by the fact that Servbot is so hard to hit! He's unbelievably small, which makes hitting him problems for people whose attacks travel in lines and don't connect with the floor. He's also fast, though weak. He can mainly be used to stall for time for a time over victory. Some hyper combos also cancel out because the first move into the combo goes right over Servbot's head!
- It also helps that while Servbot's own hyper combos can be weak, one of them has rather insane chip damage. The opponent get hurt more when BLOCKING the attack.
- Roll retains this status for both editions of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Like Servbot, however, her height (half as tall as most other characters) makes many attacks miss her completely, and her speed helps balance her general weakness.
- Hercule/Mister Satan in the Dragon Ball Budokai series. In the first installment, his attacks and special attacks can do reasonable damage to any other character, pinning him in the same tier as other decent fighters and even receiving a bonus story featuring him fighting his way through the Cell Games. In the third installment, he's the only character in the game whose base ki only goes up to two bars instead of three or more, he can't shoot ki blasts, and often his special attacks are actually things like him tripping and accidentally headbutting the opponent. Furthermore, in the Tenkaichi/Sparking series, damage dealt by his melee attacks is far lower than any other character, he hurls short-ranged rocks and grenades instead of Ki blasts, and his Ultimate Attack will either cause a somewhat reasonable amount of damage (around a regular character's 'Blast 2' damage, which is still pretty bad for a UB), or do 1 point of damage! In Budokai Tenkaichi, characters don't even flinch from his melee attacks, making them incredibly hard to do, and making it nearly impossible for him to take on Oozaru, who are immune to all of his special moves.
Mr. Sat-Hercule is also notable for this in The Legacy of Goku II. After Goku dies in the Cell Games, he becomes a playable character. If you get him up to level 50, you can view an alternate ending where instead of watching everyone summon the Dragon and stuff, Hercule appears on a Talk Show talking about how awesome he is.
- Skinny Tiencha in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2. Even the most basic attacks consume massive energy, and he is unable to perform Tiencha's special moves (he coughs if you even try).
- Hyena in King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2 moves erratically and has several... odd attacks. Most notably, his super move "The Century's Most Fearsome Acting!" has him walk at the opponent, fake being KO'd if hit... and then spring back up with a powerful kick. But if they throw him, which is quite likely given his pace, he really gets KO'd...
- Pichu in Super Smash Bros. Melee is a weakened version of Pikachu. It damages itself when it attacks, it's lighter and easier to knock off, has drastically inferior range, and often has to use its head in the place of Pikachu's longer, more powerful tail. There are some advantages, such as it being a little faster, having higher knockback, and possessing a tiny hit-box, but most would agree that that doesn't make up for all of the disadvantages.
- Pichu's own trophies blatantly admit that he's worthless, going so far as to describe him as the weakest character in the game, has to survive matches by running around using items rather than straight fighting skill, and better suited as a handicap for experienced players fighting newer, unskilled players.
- Kon and Bonnie in Bleach: Blade of Fate both qualify. Kon has one special move and takes more damage than any other character in the game, and Bonnie has no normal attacks. One is a stuffed animal and the other is a giant boar.
- Another in Hanataro in Bleach: Shattered Blade for the Wii. Hitting an opponent with your sword actually heals them, leaving him dependent on headbutts and a trip/roll attack for damage.
- Amusingly, Bleach: Dark Souls sharpens Kon and Bonnie's claws slightly. Kon gains three more special moves and has actual supers now, while Bonnie retains her original movelist but gains basic attacks. Hanataro joins the cast, but he only has one move that uses his sword. The real joke character is Yuichi, the little boy Chad protects early on - he has zero range, dies in five hits, and his moves are him panicking.
- Dark Souls also has one of the highest joke character counts of any game, with 8-13 characters of the 44 member cast qualifying. This is due to every generic mook from the story mode being playable, from generic Shinigami to nurses to the familiars a near-joke character summons.
- In Magical Battle Arena, the final character you can unlock after a downright brutal battle is... a Gadget Drone. Yup, the grunt-type Mecha-Mook from MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha that every character beats up for their first stage. With only two special attacks, no supers, and pathetically low HP, its powers are truly fearsome.
- Then again, its special attacks, while not very powerful, have a very high priority, and quick loading time. So much that only 1 character had a higher priority melee special, and only 1 character had a quick ranged special that could beat it. While not exactly a Lethal Joke Character, if played well by a player skilled in interruption tactics, it can be a real nightmare. And it can defeat Hayate pretty easily because of said interruption ability.
- In the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series (starting with the third entry), you can unlock Konohamaru, the Third Hokage's grandson... and he's about seven years old. His attacks are freaking hilarious. Good luck trying to beat someone with him.
- In Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, we have the Big Guy of Naruto's generation, Choji Akimichi. Despite being reasonably powered in both the anime and manga (even helping Kakashi take on PAIN of all people, helping take down Kinkaku during the War....then Taking It to a Level of Badass when he masters Calorie Control, soloing a battle the allies were having trouble with), in the game he's rather worthless unless he's chosen as support. His attacks are so slow, they can be dodged easily even on higher difficulties, he can't run (only stomp around like a Sumo wrestler), his Ninja Dash is the slowest in the game, and his attacks, while they hurt when they land can be broken easily.
- Completely changed in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. With the ability to instant awaken, Choji's easily one of the strongest fighters in the game in his War Arc costume. He becomes a Lightning Bruiser which can hit as hard as Kyubi Chakra Mode Naruto, is as fast as most of the other fighters now since he doesn't roll everywhere and uses a standard dash, and finally can KO most enemies in FOUR HITS easily before his awakening runs out.
- From Naruto Shippuden Clash Of Ninja Revolution 3 we have Nine-Tailed Naruto. He's pretty much average Naruto except that he takes at least double damage from opponent attacks.
- Samurai Shodown 5 had Galford's dog Poppy.
- Kuroko however tends to fall into the lethal range. More examples of regular joke characters in the series are Paku Paku, Mamahaha/Shikuru, and Chample, all from Samurai Shodown VI.
- Taokaka was supposed to be BlazBlue's version of Dan, though she ended up just being a Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
- Gundam SEED Destiny: Alliance vs ZAFT II gives us...the ZAKU Warrior Live Version. For those not familiar with Destiny, this is a Humongous Mecha painted pink with heart decals to serve as a giant mobile stage for Idol Singer Meer Campbell. In battle, the ZAKU prances instead of walking, throws grenades as if it's blowing kisses, performs one-hit melee attacks that resemble dance moves, and its unique ability involves Meer coming out onto its hands and singing, "donating" your Super Meter energy to your ally. While it can be effective if used properly, and carries a whole lot more grenades than any other ZAKU that has them as a weapon (TWENTY grenades compared to eight carried by Lunamaria's Gunner ZAKU or four for the regular ZAKU Warrior, with or without the Gunner Pack), it's generally easier and better to use an actual combat machine.
- Built on in SD Generation Wars where her Zaku literally has no attacks of her own and simply consist of her ordering other Zaku's to attack before waving. Unlike the one in RvZII, this version is not viable in actual combat because its single attack has an absurdly low hit rate and damage.
- The flash Mascot Fighter Newgrounds Rumble has Henchman, a character obtained by clicking Hank's sunglasses in the selection screen. He has Hank's moveset, but only about 40 health, in a game where average health is around 300. This is made even worse by the fact that Hank is designed as a Mighty Glacier. This is deliberate, since he's a Madness Combat character, famous for having mooks which are Made of Plasticine.
- That said Henchman also does lower damage. However, it's still entirely possible to beat other characters, but it requires some knowledge of the game's AI and some luck.
- In the English version of the Zatch Bell! game Mamodo Battles, Ponygon is this. In the Japanese version he has a partner, but to avoid spoilers Ponygon doesn't have one in the English version. What does that mean? Since a partner is required to use a spell, Ponygon can only use melee attacks, and while they serve decent damage, spells are the main damage dealers.
- Guilty Gear Isuka has the Goon Squad. Three generic enemies you fight by the hundreds in the side-scroller part of the game. How useless they are? Well, their moves are so limited, some of them can't even jump.
- Hong Meiling in Immaterial and Missing Power. She's the worst character in the game, but she's not totally unusable. It's more that China's strengths don't work in this game. Playing as China has the feel of trying to kill Spiderman by dropping him off a cliff.
First/Third Person Shooter
- Resident Evil 2 included a Bonus Level which told the story of Hunk, one of the Umbrella commandos who was knocked unconscious and forced to fight his way out of the Raccoon Police Department after the events of the main game (now throughly overrun with enemies). The truly hardcore could play that level again as Tofu, truly Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a block of bean curd with a knife. Unlike Hunk, Tofu only carries a knife and 3 mixed herbs, which means you have to spend time avoiding enemies instead of taking them on, but you're compensated for the lack of gear by having extremely durable defense.
- Apparently Capcom added Tofu as a Take That to people who beat RE1 under an hour only using the knife.
- Tofu was also not actually created to be a playable character or even a tofu. It was a block the developers made to test hit detection for the game. But they decided to take the joke and run with it after development.
- In most game modes in Team Fortress 2 The Engineer is an impossibly valuable teammate for his area-of-denial sentry, health/ammo dispenser, and teleporters. In Medieval Mode, where he isn't allowed any of these things, he becomes a joke character nobody plays as except when they're trolling.
Hack and Slash
- As part of a Take That from Capcom to Koei, Kanetsugu Naoe in Sengoku Basara is introduced into the series as one of these. According to a line by Keiji Maeda in the third game, he even gets beat up by kids.
- Forum Warz lets you pick a character class after completing the tutorial... or you can continue as a Re-Re, without any free stat bonuses and only gaining a fourth of the abilities that other classes do. Reaching level 10 allows you to advance to "Permanoob."
- Baby Classes in Ragnarok Online, no transcendence 75% HP/SP of their counterparts and 50% success rate in alchemy/smithing. Combined with a super novice and you got a big joke class.
- The Lord of the Rings Online allows you to play as a Level 1 Chicken. First you stay in the peaceful Shire, but then you get sent into areas where enemies are level 36-40 and kill you with a single hit. Ouch...
- Technically, there aren't really Joke Characters in Kingdom of Loathing. However, players can take familiars to assist them, and here we find joke characters. Most familiars heal you, increase your stat gains, meat gains, or item drops, or attack your enemies. The Pet Rock... does absolutely nothing. Neither does the Crimbo Log or Bulky Buddy Block. The ultimate joke familiar, though, is the O.A.F., or Optimal Ascension Familiar, created as a vicious Take That against players who deem familiars with any nonessential features useless - it actively works against you, even more so than the Black Cat (and the Black Cat was designed for challenge runs).
- Mega Man ZX Advent had the unlockable "Model a". Note the lowercase a, not to be confused with the default Model A, since the "a" stands for "ancient". Model a is an 8-bit version of the main character's default mode, and has exactly two powers: a shot, the weakest attack in the game (or at least on par with the basic attack), and a slide. It also moved slowly compared to every other form in the game, including unarmored, had a low jump, couldn't wallslide... just there for the nostalgia.
- The boss for the DLC extra stage in Mega Man 9 is... no, not Evil Counterpart Bass, not Mega Man X's Zero...it's Fake Man! Yeah, the phony police robot that arrests Dr. Light at the start of the game. Let's refrain from obvious jokes about using Donut Man's weapon, shall we?
- The Robot Buddy duo Heavy and Bomb in Knuckles Chaotix. Since your partner is selected via crane game, there was about a 1-in-3 chance you'd pick up either one of these two. Heavy inhibits your movement by slowing and weighing you down, even when using the rubber-band speed boosts, and Bomb will explode if it gets hit, costing you all of your Rings if you get caught in the blast (and you most likely will).
- Playing as Heavy or Bomb, however, can turn them into Lethal Joke Characters, as they're invulnerable to enemy attacks, destroying common enemies by merely touching them. They just have a limited range of movement.
- Meat Boy gives us Tofu Boy, a Take That aimed at PETA; you play him by typing "PETAphile" at the character select screen. He can't even complete most levels due to being too slow and barely able to jump.
- Grey Ogmo in Jumper Three is slow, jumps low, has a special ability that only slows him down, and you get him very late in the game. Plus, you need to commit suicide when you actually get him. However, he has the highest skid-jumping in the game, but that's not going to be useful for the next two stages.
- Most Gran Turismo games have at least one car so ludicrously underpowered its only use is to laugh at their slowness. The first game was rather low key, with the 86 hp Mazda Demio being the weakest car, but GT2 started playing this one with the 32 hp Daihatsu Midget and the 25 hp Fiat 500R. The fourth game finally upped (downed?) the ante with the Benz Motorwagen and the Daimler Motor Carriage, the first internal combustion vehicles in history, both of them barely reaching the SINGLE horsepower!
- Not necessarily there for humorous value. The franchise is marketed as "the ultimate driving simulator", and the target audience (especially hard-core motorheads) may appreciate the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one of the Great Old Ones (no, not those Great Old Ones!).
- Wangan Midnight: Maximum Tune had a secret code that would allow one to select the Toyota Celsior, also known as the Lexus LS 400 in North America. While the car itself wasn't a joke at 250 stock horsepower, it's a luxury car and not a racing car, and its basic tuning had useless "ricer" parts and comments such as "Chrome tails confuse the enemy!"
- WMMT2 also had a code to select the Toyota HiAce van/bus and the Corolla coupe.
- WMMT3 had another code to select a kei car. It begins with 64 stock horsepower, and after one tuning step it, like other cars, jumps straight to 300 horsepower. In other words: adding a turbo to the car adds 236 horsepower.
- Mr. EAD in the F-Zero games. Oh, yeah, he's got an A grade boost, but an E in body and a D in grip, meaning he can't keep speed and he can't take hits and he doesn't corner very well either. All of his stats are practically nonexistant, as well. His machine, the Great Star, was designed with utter disregard to pilot safety because Mr. EAD is a robot, so it's not that big a deal, but damn is it fragile.
- Great Star is also a Flying Brick (Not to be confused with Superman's Super Powers) at its weight, and with that terrible Grip, it's gonna go wall ramming. Using EAD? Good Luck.
- Daigoroh's Silver Rat has one thing going for it, and that's acceleration. On the other hand, it has the lowest top speed in the game. Its boost may be A-ranked, but it lasts for such a short time that it's not any good anyway, and every one eats up a huge portion of the Silver Rat's already very small energy bar.
- The Golden Fox in the first game. On the higher difficulties, some races are Unwinnable when using it.
- The classic PS1 game 3Xtreme had aliens, monsters and toy cars as joke characters.
- The Bugatti Veyron in Need for Speed ProStreet. In real life, this is the second-fastest car in the world (253 MPH top speed) and they put it in a game that's mainly about racing tuned Golfs and RX-7s, with a few exotics here and there. It is also only obtainable through a hack in the PC version or by buying the car online for the console versions. So you put down the cash and... it handles like a freaking land barge. You can go fast in the straights, but good luck getting the car to turn. Oh, did I mention that you can't actually tune it? And that this is a tuner game? Whoops.
- The Veyron averts Joke Car status in Need for Speed Most Wanted (2012) by virtue of its extreme speed and weight making it a great battering ram for taking down opponents (the boat-like handling is still there, though). Instead, this game has as its Joke Car the Ford Focus ST. In a game all about driving and crashing half-million-plus dollar exotics capable of 200+ MPH, this car is...a rather ordinary four-door hatchback. Like the ones you see on the road everyday. It only gets better when you consider that you have to earn it first by winning 5 events in Ford vehicles.
- NASCAR Rumble had things like a golf cart, a tow truck and an RV.
- Hydro Thunder had the a hovercraft (a bitch to maneuver), a military boat, a fishing boat with an outboard motor and "The Tinytanic".
- Forza Motorsport 4 features several cars which have absolutely no reason to be in a racing game, like the Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf, and Chevrolet Volt, Ford Pinto, and AMC Pacer. Most are incapable of being competitive even with the game's extensive customization system. On the other hand, a few become Lethal Joke Characters with careful upgrade choices, such as the Pinto becoming a Leaderboard car.
Role Playing Game
- Pokémon has a few:
- Luvdisc. The only fully-evolved Pokémon with lower base stats have gimmicks that make up for them; Luvdisc lacks even that. For further information, read this review.
- Luvdisc actually did have a gimmick in the third-generation games - Heart Scales, which are used to re-teach moves Pokémon have already forgotten, could only be found attached to wild Luvdisc. In the fourth-gen games, however, it's much easier to just dig up Heart Scales in the Underground, making poor Luvdisc completely pointless once again. It is made even more pointless when the Pokewalker is in play because one of the few areas there allows you to get Heart Scales with ease.
- Spinda, which has a similar problem, only without the decent Speed. It probably says something about Luvdisc that Spinda's attack strength is double that of Luvdisc...and still horrible.
- Spinda's primary purpose in the game is similar to the below Unown's, although it's not nearly as well known: each and every Spinda has a unique pattern of spots. (Well, okay, technically there are only 4,294,967,296 different Spinda spot patterns.)
- One new Ability in Black/White, Contrary, reverses stat changes for the Pokémon, and Spinda is one of the few to have this Ability. Might not put it into Lethal Joke Character status just yet, but it's funny seeing some players experiment with combos involving Spinda of all the Pokémon.
- Chimecho, who was a massive Guide Dang It to find when it was first introduced in R/S/E. It had a 2% chance of appearing at the summit of Mt. Pyre, a story location well off the beaten path that you aren't likely to go back to. You'd think it was some great rare Pokémon, or at least had some Magikarp Power, right? Nope. Its only decent stat is Special Attack, and that's not enough to redeem its limited movepool and bland typing. Compounding this is the existence of Gardevoir, Alakazam, and Grumpig, three much better Psychic types whose pre-evolutions are available much earlier, and are much easier to find.
- Unown, whose only learned move is of unknown type, determined by an intricate number manipulation involving values to which you normally wouldn't have access. And it comes in 28 different flavors! Collectors can seek out all 28 forms (about all they're good for), but they probably won't be used for battle.
- And lest you make the mistake of believing that Unown is potentially worth using for that move (the moves main use is obtaining odd move types on a mon that could not otherwise learn, and even then it is so much of a pain to set up that it only gets used in simulators where it can be picked from a menu instead of excessive inbreeding), every Pokémon in the game capable of using TMs can learn it too, and the only Pokémon aside from weak species like Magikarp that can't use TMs are gimmicky things (like Unown) anyway. Not to mention that Unown isn't the only Pokémon that can learn it without a TM. Shellos and Gastrodon can do that as well, the difference being that it isn't the only move they can learn.
- If you got an Unown that gets a Psychic-type Hidden Power (for STAB), optimum IVs and EVs to power it up, and a held item to increase it further...it would still suck.
- There's also Farfetch'd, which has exactly two things going for it: a personal item that greatly increases its chance of getting a critical hit, and the fact that it looks cool. The personal item really doesn't matter, considering its stats are so bad that it will still be a weak hit even with a critical, and that's if it can survive long enough to hit anything.
- In the original Red and Blue versions of Pokémon, you could only get Farfetch'd by trading with an in-game character for it (Yellow Version however lets you catch them in the wild, as do Gold, Silver, and Crystal). As fans of the series know, a Pokémon obtained via trade can not have its nickname changed. For this reason, no one in the entire country owned a Farfetch'd that didn't have the inane nickname "DUX".
- As of the sixth generation, Farfetch'd's Stick (the personal item mentioned above) has been vastly buffed, now giving Farfetch'd a whopping 50% chance of a critical hit. There are moves that have twice the normal critical hit rate, and Farfetch'd gets four of these of different typings; combine the two and this means every hit with Farfetch'd will be a critical, making it into a Lethal Joke Character if you can get around the fact that its stats are still awful. (Although, seeing as you can get it right before the first Gym - which is Insect-themed - and it knows Aerial Ace - it might be very useful right there.)
- Delibird seems to be an experiment by Game Freak/Nintendo to create the worst Pokémon of all time. Its Ice/Flying type leaves it with only 2 resistances and one immunity, compared to four weaknesses (including a 4X weakness to Rock). Its base stat total is the same as Luvdisc. It only learns a single move by leveling up (and it's a terrible move with low accuracy and variable damage, with a chance to heal the opponent). This means that it has to rely on TM, move tutor, and egg moves alone. It barely learns any special moves outside of Ice type, meaning it has to rely on its inferior physical attack. Abilities? It gets one that lowers accuracy to get a boost in attack, and two abilities that prevent sleep. Which means it can't heal up with Rest (but why would you when your defenses and HP are only 45?). The one saving grace it has is that it can learn Aerial Ace (combined with Hustle, it's boosted without the chance of missing). It's like Game Freak regrets adding this guy to the game or something...
- Until the fifth generation, Ditto was a glaring example of this, since it had terrible stats and was only capable of doing one thing in battle, which two other Pokémon could do better - its only real use was as a universal breeder, allowing male-only and genderless Pokémon to make eggs with it. The fifth generation gave it a tremendous buff in the unique Impostor hidden ability, giving it a great niche in battles and single-handedly saving it from this trope - though its low HP is still a bit of an issue, it's not a dealbreaker.
- Nearly every Joke Character in Pokémon has some sort of strange gimmick. Chatot interacts with the DS microphone, Smeargle can learn any move in the game through Sketch, Plusle and Minun have an interaction in double battles, etc. Sometimes a gimmick allows one of these to be a Lethal Joke Character; most of the time, they are stuck being the Tier-Induced Scrappy.
- As of Generation VI, Chatot has hit Lethal Joke Character status. Chatter no longer interacts with a microphone; to make up for that, it got a small boost in power and a 100% chance of causing confusion. In addition, Chatot can be bred to know Nasty Plot and STAB Boomburst. But Wait, There's More!: Chatot is arguably the best Boomburst user, with a Special Attack stat slightly higher than the other STAB Boomburst user, Exploud, as well as several useful status moves.
- Due to the different varieties of play, however, even Pokémon's Joke Characters frequently get their day in the sun. A few of them (notably Spinda, Ditto, Farfetch'd, Smeargle, and arguably even Delibird) are highly useful for breeding purposes (thereby making already-useful Mons even better), and others are highly competent at Contests or the Pokéathlon.
- Note that nearly all of these cases go clear out the window with the Pokémon Trading Card Game, where all of the above Pokémon except Spinda have had at least one card used competitively (even if it was only for a few weeks). Also note that some of these Pokémon are Not Completely Useless in non-single battling (for instance, Limber Ditto has the edge over Impostor Ditto in double and triple battles because you have control over whom your Ditto Transforms into — very useful if the opponent is packing Olympus Mons). Especially Spinda, whose Teeter Dance move can confuse the entire enemy squad.
- In almost every Pokémon game, there's a trainer somewhere — usually one you encounter after beating the main storyline — who challenges you using a team of six Magikarp. If the first Pokémon on your team at this point can't beat a trainer like this in six moves, then your character is a Joke Character. In games which allow for a rematch, though, he sometimes trains a bit and comes back with a team of six Gyarados.
- Power Quest has BOROT, a charcter who not only lacks any special attacks but is incapable of performing basic maneuvers like blocking, jumping and crouching.
- Edward from Final Fantasy IV, who happens to be the Trope Namer for Spoony Bard, had pitiful stats in everything except speed; then again, one of his character abilities was to run and hide.
- The DS remake improved him to the point where he was legitimately as useful as characters like Rosa and Yang.
- And in the sequel, with the right equipment and some leveling, he'll be your fastest character, hitting as hard as your tanks (or harder) from the back row, and able to heal the whole party almost instantly to full health (his HP and defense still stink, though). And with a little luck, Bardsong can either buff your whole party, or debuff the enemies, all for 0 MP with no charge time. His secretary Harley, on the other hand, takes over the joke character slack that Edward left behind.
- The GBA version lacks the inherent usefulness of Bardsong that the DS remake has...but late game, where you can pick Edward up again, his stats explode rapidly, to where he'll be one of your fastest chars, and one-shotting most Dragon-type enemies you'll encounter.
- Star Ocean: Till the End of Time had Adray Lasbard and Mirage Koas - again, both powerful characters who were nonetheless clearly identifiable as bonus characters added to the original release; they came so late and at such a low level they were a lot of trouble to bother leveling up. This was enhanced by the fact that both of them were slightly stat-fiddled versions of previously existing characters (Sophia and Cliff, respectively) who were just as good or better and were gotten early in the game.
- Depending on which version of Robopon 2 you have, most battery combinations will yield either a Gear or a Bulbot. Both of these monsters are worthless because they have weak stats, and unlike Magikarp and Feebas, they don't get any better at all.
- Every monster from the Monster Rancher series has a joke sub-species.
- Salsa from Mother 3. He has atrocious attacking power, low defense, and very mediocre abilities, with only one having any real use.
- Salsa is something of a deconstruction of a Joke Character. He's nigh-useless in battle, but Fassad puts him through so much shit that you can't not root for the poor little guy.
Shoot 'Em Up
- Merlin Prismriver in Phantasmagoria of Flower View. Horrible stats, the worst scope in the game, slanted shots that only make it difficult to hit things, and her only half decent attack is the one you can't control. The good news is that she doesn't have a storyline, so she's mostly there as a handicap for experienced players.
- Sakuya may have been a Game Breaker in Perfect Cherry Blossom, but the nerf she got for Imperishable Night was ridiculously excessive. Very weak firepower even at maximum, encouraging the player to get close to the bosses in a bullet hell just to deal decent damage - and even then, only Alice and Reimu have less firepowernote . Her focused speed is the fastest in the game and her unfocused speed is the slowest, when the ideal is the reverse. Her only redeeming quality is her ability to cover a wide area...except that Yuyuko can do the exact same thing without any of the above drawbacks. And unless you're playing extra, Yuyuko gets more bombs than Sakuya, just to rub it in further.
- Mortasheen has The Devilbird of Sloth. While the other Devilbirds are like a combination of demons and The Heartless, with all sorts of truly nasty Mind Rape abilities that leaves them open only to higher level players, Sloth... is just an egg. That does absolutely nothing.
- The Temple Of Elemental Evil features three joke characters, Ted, Ed and Ed. They are hopelessly weak, being first level in the 'final' area and having 3 Hit Points between them.
- In the Vampire: The Requiem Sourcebook Bloodlines: The Legendary, there is a Mekhet bloodline called the Players. They're essentially one giant Take That at vampire groupies - their origins lie with a vampire who was obsessed with Hollywood. Their weakness is monstrously crippling - it's much easier for them to get dramatic failures on mental-based Disciplines (of which all but four qualify), and if they do, the target is permanently immune. On top of that, their Viniculums, eternal blood slave bonds, last a ridiculously short time. They're such jokes, in fact, that other vampires are mildly scared of them - something that weak and laughable could not be an accident...
- In the tabletop fantasy football game Blood Bowl (and its PC adaptation) a lot of the teams are stronger or weaker than others, but the Ogre team is the one that is simply not competitively viable. Its strengths? You can hire up to six Ogres (without the usual 'Loner' drawback that big guys like that usually have) who are incredibly hard-hitting, dangerous and quite durable, the Snotlings you hire to make up the numbers are ridiculously cheap and are so agile they can all but ignore enemy tackle zones, and the Ogres can throw the Snotlings downfield in some truly bizarre plays. Their weaknesses? Pretty much everything else. Ogres are ridiculously expensive, not very agile, and due to being as thick as lard have a 1 in 6 chance of forgetting what they're supposed to be doing every turn, while Snotlings are slow (thanks to their short legs), so weak they get beaten up by Halflings and have a tendency to die when the enemy so much as looks at them.
- Speaking of halflings, they compete with ogre teams for being the worst team ever and are (even more than the ogres) certainly treated this way in the game's fluff. About every halfling game mentioned in the rulebook involves downright slaughter of the entire halfling team, and one particularly famous incident had a halfling team failing to win a match against an opponent who didn't show up. Halflings are so bad, they can't even win by default.
Turn Based Strategy
- The original Shining Force (a TBS game where you controlled a dozen fighters out of a pool of 30 or so) had a number of characters that could be found or missed during your travels. One was a character called Jogurt the Yogurt. Jogurt was a hamster with a helmet. Jogurt only talked about his helmet. Jogurt had 1 hit point. Jogurt did 1 damage. Jogurt had a magic ring that turned other (adjacent) heros into little hamsters like him. And then broke. EVERY time. Levelling takes 100 exp. Killing someone nets 48. If, somehow, you manage to get Jogurt to kill 3 people (or 2 plus 4 other attacks) doing 1 damage in close combat, he levelled - and gained NO abilities, remaining at lvl 1. You could also 'promote' fighters. Jogurt can be promoted right away - yup, no change. Jogurt is THE paragon of this trope.
- The sequel, Shining Force II, included a hidden character called Kiwi, this time a turtle with a helmet. Kiwi somewhat subverted the trope, as while he could rarely do anything more than 1 damage and was slow as molasses, he had more than 1 hit point and his shell meant that most enemies could only do 1 damage to him per attack. You could also actually level him up enough to change class and turn him into a giant fire-breathing turtle a la Gamera. The downside was that by the time you got him there, the enemies were nasty enough to overcome his defense, and he drops right back down to useless again by the end of the game.
- Penn from Shining Force III is a secret character that requires the player to spend the whole game doing stupid things with chickens and eggs until you can finally get him. However he starts at level one, can barely do scratch damage to the enemies you're currently facing and will die in one hit. Did I mention he also doesn't speak, he just repeats his name so you won't even get any cool backstory or conversation out of this. It is possible to level grind him if you baby sit him in a training area but it isn't really worth the effort.
- Phantom Brave has the Old Man and Granny characters. They're both painfully slow, have terrible stats, and can't stay on the field for more than two turns.
- They're not intended for combat, however — Old Men gives free exp to other phantoms, and Grannies can remove dark points from other phantoms. Also keep in mind that Titlists are almost as useless in combat, yet they can give titles to other phantoms, items, and dungeons (and possibly give them drastic increases, such as +30% to every stat).
- The "failure" title reduces the stats of a character or item by 80%, making them pitifully weak for their level. This being a Nippon Ichi game, though, the title can be gainfully used for gamebreaking purposes.
- Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 has Shanam (not to be confused with Shanan.) He has completely horrible stats, and he accidentally teaches Marita how to use Astra...which is a skill that he doesn't even have in the first place.
- Radiant Dawn has Oliver, a boss from the previous game who was somehow Not Quite Dead and does a Heel-Face Turn note so inexplicable Ike outright lampshades it. He's got pretty bad stats, but he has a unique (fat) combat model, a unique theme that plays every time he attacks and unique, hilarious dialogue with each of the end-game bosses.
- Several of these exist in the fan-made Kinnikuman game Kinnikuman Muscle Fight. For one, background character Canadianman is made into a full on Expy of Dan Hibiki himself; He's the only character who can taunt, has variations on this taunts like Dan, and even uses Dan's Super Taunt - though his version actually does a little damage. Oddly, he's a pretty legitimate character aside from that. There's also a couple of "two button" characters who only use the Weak and Medium attack buttons - most notably, the Mari (a walking volleyball) and Chienowaman (a walking chain link puzzle). They can tread into Lethal Joke Character territory, though, since they're small, agile, and speedy.
- Later, Kinnikuman's "sidekick" Meat became playable, and, well... he's the smallest character in the game, standing at roughly a third the height of the average character, and his moves have poor damage. This makes sense considering how in canon, Meat is one of the only main characters to not make his living as a wrestler; the only reason he's in the game at all is because of the fact that he participated in exactly one match throughout the Long Runner series, where he managed to defeat a significantly weakened opponent by being privy to his Achilles' Heel. Like the Mari and Chienowaman, Meat can easily hit Lethal Joke Character territory; as with them, his small size makes him hard to hit and he's very quick and agile.
- Finally, there are a handful of characters who are literally jokes, meant to be played for laughs rather than competitively. Take, for instance, the series of Street Fighter-patterned characters, whose movesets are limited and not very damaging and have unimpressive supers (if any at all).
- Eric Bischoff in WCW/nWo Revenge has pitiful strength and stamina and is the only character in the game who can't grapple (justified, as he's not a grappler in Real Life). His high speed is the only thing going for him.
- Press R1 4 times, L1 4 times, R2 4 times and L2 4 times to unlock a buttload of joke characters in WCW Thunder.
- WWE games have a history of joke wrestlers like Jim Ross, Mike Chioda, Lillian Garcia, Michael Cole, Jonathan Coachman, Fred Durst and Al Snow's mannequin head.
- Subverted in the legendary No Mercy, as some of the added characters like Linda McMahon are repositories for all of the moves that didn't get assigned to regular characters. This turns Linda into an MMA powerhouse, and her daughter Stephanie has the legendary Tiger Driver '91 as her finishing move because no one else was using it.
- No Mercy did have some joke moves however. One of the specials was a move where the target would hit the user, who would fall over and plead for mercy, and then sucker-punch the target in the gut. The move took long enough to run out the special meter in all likelihood, and was ranked "G" for power (the lowest for any move, special or not).
- In WWE: SmackDown vs. Raw 2006, Jimmy Hart has all of Rhyno's moves, but none of his strength.
Other Video Games and Media
- The Sixty Whiners from Mutant League Football are the weakest team in the game. They're composed entirely of fragile skeletons with piss-poor skills and mediocre audibles.
- Several in the Tony Hawk series, though the most obvious and fitting is Benjamin Franklin (the Benjamin Franklin) in THUG 2, who has the lowest stats out of any playable character. There's also Paulie "Wheels of Fury" Ryan (a ten year old boy in a body cast and wheelchair) Jason "Wee Man" Acuna (a little person best known for being a cast member on Jackass), Jesse James (of American Chopper. He rides on his suped-up segway), a cowardly Spanish Matador, an Australian Aborigine in a go-kart, Bigfoot, a Cajun voodoo priest on a rocket powered tricycle...
- The boxing game Knockout Kings has a history of joke characters like rappers Jermaine Dupri and Q-Tip, shoe designer Marc Ecko, comedian Marlon Wayans, basketball player Tim Duncan, referee Mills Lane, a baby, a clown, a bulldog, oh and a bear!.
- Don't Starve has Wes the Mime. Wes cannot examine anything verbally (being a mime, of course), has 3/4's the base stats of the other characters (excluding Wolfgang) in every category, and his hunger meter drains slightly faster than everyone else's. According to Word of God, Wes's sole purpose in the game is to challenge players who found the core game too easy.
- Jeff from Maniac Mansion. He's a surfer dude who can inexplicably fix phones, but that's it; like the main hero Dave, he has no way of getting past Purple Tentacle at the endgame.
- Not to mention that Bernard not only can also fix phones, but many other things that Jeff can't.
- Jorge Garcia of the Backyard Sports series, who always had below average stats in every game at first. A few years after they increased his stats to make him less of a Joke Character, but he still ends up as one of the worst.
- Mafuyu in Seitokai no Ichizon compares herself to one of these in an attempt to explain how she doesn't really stand out. Yeah, it's that kind of show.
- Gundam Assault Survive has the Zudah; if you boost while your boost meter is empty, you take damage, leading to many deaths. This reflects the Zudah's depiction in Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO, where its powerful but highly unstable engine lead to several test units suffering from Explosive Overclocking.
- The Z Zaku in Mobile Suit Gundam Climax UC
- Ace Combat 5 has the Hawk T.1 fighter. Worse still, there is a mission that forces you to use it. Joint Assault has the WWII A6M Zero and F6F Hellcat fighters. Appropriately enough, these two have no missiles.
- Megane in Inazuma Eleven is a rare example of a joke character that you start out with on your team. This was probably an intentional move by Level-5 to train players to swap out team members and avoid settling into Complacent Gaming Syndrome. This is taken even further in the anime adaptation, where it's repeatedly lampshaded that his 2 primary contributions to the team are naming hissatsu techniques and acting as a Combat Commentator. And he gets upset and cries whenever someone else steals his thunder and fulfills one of those roles instead of him. He does score one goal in the entire series... by letting the ball hit him in the face to redirect it into the goal.
- He has a bit of a Lethal Joke Character in himself, too: in fact, in all iterations, he can learn some of the most powerful moves of the games, was the player patient enough to level him up to the max. Doesn't stop him from screwing up due to his low stats...
- The GameFAQs Character Battles always have one - CATS, Weighted Companion Cube, MissingNo... and the most glorious example, the L-Block from Tetris, who managed to even win a contest in 2007!
- In the boxing video game Fight Night: Champion, players have the option of fighting as Butterbean, a (real) 400lb boxer/wrestler/mma fighter. The game does not use his real name ('Butterbean' is used as his last name and he has no first name) and he is among the lowest-rated boxers in the game.
- The OTAS Sirokos in X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude is one of these. It's the games' poster boy for Crippling Overspecialization: it can carry ten more marines than any other M7M (30 instead of 20), at the cost of only being able to fire boarding pods and Mosquito missiles. It works fine for capturing TL-class ships (slow lumbering transports with enormous cargo bays capable of transporting space stations), but since it lacks offensive weapons (other than ramming) it can't really do anything else. The Goner Ranger is a completely unarmed fighter-sized ship used by the Goners. It's slow, doesn't carry that much cargo, and cannot use internal docking bays used by carriers and military transporters - and it's the default ship for the "Goner Witness" alternate gamestart.
- Caveman Ugh-Lympics has characters such as Thag, Ugha, and... Vincent. If you play as Vincent, don't expect to win: his highlights include mastery of several numbers (including three!) and getting beaten up by the other competitors.