Memetic Loser

Got so bad they had to start keeping count.

Vegeta: Congratulations, you've just destroyed the equivalent of 3 Raditz.
Krillin: That's right. What now, you son of a bi—
Vegeta: Nappa here is worth 5 Raditz.
Krillin: ...what?
Vegeta: And I am worth 15 Raditz.
Krillin: (disappointed) I...oh.
Nappa: Aw, come on! Don't get so down on yourself! At least you've proven that your Raditz is still stronger than our Raditz.
Raditz: I. Hate. All of you!
Dragon Ball Z Abridged, episode 8.

Sometimes a character is shown to be competent, maybe even heroic and badass. But that's not what they're remembered most for. Instead, they become remembered for their supposed "lameness". The fandom flanderizes that one time the character made a stupid mistake or got defeated in a shameful way, to the point that as far as the fandom is concerned they're a complete weakling who cannot defeat an insect.

Maybe a parody version of the character is more well-known than the character themselves to begin with. Maybe the character is weak or unskilled at the beginning of a series, but gains more skills and goes through Character Development later after the character's initial portrayal had already burned its way into most peoples' minds. However it happened the character's "lameness" undergoes Memetic Mutation and they reach Butt Monkey status within Fanon. Expect no one to care because it's funny.

Contrast Memetic Badass, Watch It for the Meme (for when it's something bad enough to draw people in). Compare What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? (which is a possible cause of this trope being in effect), What Measure Is a Non-Badass?, Butt Monkey, The Scrappy, Tier-Induced Scrappy, and Never Live It Down.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Chiaotzu is a memetic loser for having made a Stupid Sacrifice that didn't even scratch Nappa.
    Nappa: HA HA, pointless.
    • The fandom jokes about Krillin always dying. He's been killed four times, by Tamborine, Freeza, Buu, and Super 17. Also for being constantly Overshadowed by Awesome, to the point the trope was originally called The Krillin.
    • Yamcha is known as the one killed by a sneak Suicide Attack by a Saibaman. That defeat created a meme involving the death pose. His last major fight scene in the series involved getting one shotted by a villain that Piccolo would fight with relative ease and even Krillin defeated many of them in one attack!
    • Raditz is an absolute weakling, compared to other villains, like Vegeta or Freeza. In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, he's considered the Evil Counterpart to Yamcha. Unlike other examples, he really never leaves this status - so much so that he was seriously considered as a title for this trope at one point.
    Vegeta: I don't know what this 'Yamcha' is, but it sounds just like Raditz.
  • Pokémon: Ash gets this treatment in the fandom, due to never winning a major league (just the anime-only Orange Islands, and there's him being offered as a Frontier Brain). Still, he has shown to be a competent trainer, hero in many movies, and a champion of the Battle Frontier, which is harder than the champion league in the games. Still, "Gary was here, Ash is a loser" (Originally Shigeru is the best, Satoshi is an Idiot). Which is ironic, considering how despite all the teasing Gary did, Ash has always been better than him, it's just that Gary's antics are more memorable.
  • Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. While early-series Simon is trying to find his footing and hence is not as Crazy Awesome as Kamina, late in the series he surpasses his "Aniki" in spades and Kamina himself acknowledges it (if posthumously). Alas, Simon pretty much remains a useless and whiny in much of the fandom eyes, and if they do acknowledge his late-show achievements, they do so in a bizarre way: Simon's not one guy who outgrew his problems and faced his fears and became a Badass- it's more like there's two men called 'Simon', one who is whiny and one who is pure high-octane GAR with no in-betweens.
  • Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon. He has throwing roses, an extendable cane (which he uses as a baton), and a propensity for dramatic entries to save and encourage the Sailor Senshi. He's somewhat useful in both Anime and Manga versions (although he goes Out of Focus on a couple of seasons and in one he got a bridge dropped (temporarily) on him off-screen (while he was going to America).) This has only fanned the Fanon of him being pretty damn useless period and no lack of jokes and curb-stomping are done at his expense in (mostly Crossover) Fan Fiction.
  • Jean from Attack on Titan. In canon, his loser status consists of crushing on the oblivious Mikasa and generally being second best to Eren; over the series, he develops into a capable soldier and gains some humility. In fanon, his loserdom is shown through anything from being hopelessly in love with Eren to Mikasa outright hating him. Rule of Funny may be the culprit.
  • Chad from Bleach gets this often. In this case, the canon isn't much different from the meme. He suffers from a really terrible case of The Worf Effect, losing almost every single fight he participates in during the manga's 500+ chapter run. Making it worse is the fact that he has minimal effect on the plot despite being the main character's best friend. Abarai Renji gets this to a lesser degree for similar reasons.
  • Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame. He was meant to be a deconstruction of a typical anime action hero, a guy who really wasn't cut out for fighting horrifying monsters and who suffered extreme emotional problems because of it. He also lacks a backbone when dealing with the other characters, and almost never stands up for himself. Some viewers expected he would come onto his own like Simon above, but the angst fest the series became means he only got more and more screwed up. It's a topic of heavy debate whether he was an effective examination of his character type, or if he was just too whiny to be sympathetic. Pretty much every spin off (including the manga and Rebuild of Evangelion movies) writes Shinji to be more confident, which makes it seem like it wasn't just the casual viewers who had a problem with his portrayal. Heck, even his English VA got annoyed with him for it. note 
  • Lunamaria Hawke gets this in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny. Canonically, she's supposed to be an elite pilot on par with the likes of Dearka or Yzak, not quite to the level of the main characters but just below them. However, the fact that she never had any outstanding moments of awesome piloting (like Dearka and Yzak got), and the fact that the one time it looked like she might she missed (it was established early on that her marksmanship isn't the best), leads fans to view her as little better than the Cannon Fodder pilots.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Sayaka Miki is often considered as one in the fandom, considered to be a weak magical girl, and while she is the weakest of the main cast the others all have extensive experience or unique powers that give them an edge. She also gets a lot of flak for "not being a strong character" and reacting to the situation that she was thrust into like... like any normal underage girl would probably have reacted in such a situation, really.
    • Strangely enough, the Rebellion movie has seen Homura go from a Memetic Badass to this. Despite being more powerful than ever, Akuma Homura is often portrayed as a tryhard who can't stop her own familiars from picking on her.
  • Zeed and pretty much any mohawk-wearing thug from Fist of the North Star. While they are a legitimate threat to the war-torn society, even the weaker martial artists don't even break a sweat slicing them to ribbons or making their heads pop like balloons. Zeed deserves special mention for simply doing nothing during his fight but threaten to kill a little girl, watch his friends die, and let himself get pummeled to death by Kenshiro until his head explodes.
  • Bellamy the Hyena in One Piece is best known as "that guy Luffy beat with one punch". Though this died down quite a bit after he came back in the Dressrosa Arc and Took a Level in Badass.

Comic Books
  • Ant-Man will forever be known as the lame guy that hit his wife that one time and has the not-so-useful power to controls ants, regardless of his portrayals in later comics or the existence of the much more useful Giant Man. He started to grow out of it a bit thanks to his appearances in Dark Reign and his portrayal in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but compared to Aquaman below, he still has a long way to go.
  • Aquaman often gets hit with this, mostly due to his memetic Super Friends incarnation. We even named a trope for the inane hoops one has to jump through to make Aquaman's hyper specific skill set seem useful in a team setting. Though he started to shed this due to the public being introduced to his more badass interpretations (such as his appearance in Injustice: Gods Among Us).
  • X-Men:
    • Cyclops gets this in some form; while certainly a badass (check out the Crowning Moment of Awesome page for the X-Men as proof), and a strategist on par with Captain America, he still stands next to Wolverine. He has a rather justified reason to be moody or angsty, and his dislike for Wolverine spending time with his wife is understandble given that Wolverine is constantly hitting on her, but some fans flanderize this as him being a real whiner baby; Twisted Toyfair Thetre being notable examples. He is also considered this by his actual fans, who seem to enjoy mocking his Accidental Innuendos, lack of social skills and general dorkiness, but (for at least a few of them) these are qualities that they view as adorable; still it's not uncommon for fans to say they like him because he's a badass but bad at being one.
    • Apocalypse has been considered this in some circles due to how many times he gets beaten by weaker mutants such as Magneto, being manipulated by the Celestials and his reliance on their tech, and his relative unimportance in the grand scheme of things compared to other villains like Thanos or Ultron. In the House of M continuity, he even cowers before Black Bolt and gets vaporized by a whisper from him. Thanos, in comparison, takes a full-on scream from Black Bolt and only gets his armor destroyed and a couple gashes.
  • Poor Killer Moth. He's been kicked around Gotham so many times that it's near impossible to remember that he was actually a pretty big threat to Batman when first introduced. He's a Memetic Loser in-universe, with his reputation going further and further downhill ever since he got effortlessly beaten up by Batgirl on her first night out. Writers tried to beef him up by having him become the genuinely scary Charaxes by making a deal with Neron, but ultimately Charaxes got retconned away and he went back to being the Butt Monkey of Batman's Rogues Gallery. The Batman took this to its logical conclusion in terms of sheer lameness; he's not even a true independent supervillain, he's the Penguin's coffee boy.

Film
  • Star Wars:
    • The Stormtroopers are so memetically bad at hitting targets that they're the Trope Namer for Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.
    • Greedo became this after George Lucas edited his scene so that he shoots but misses Han Solo at point-blank range. Even LEGO got in on the fun with a Funny Background Event in Revenge of the Brick wherein Greedo repeatedly fails to hit a dartboard positioned only a few inches away from him.
    • TIE fighters actually pull their weight in most engagements in the films, inflicting heavy casualties on the X-wings at Yavin. However, the videogames used them as Mooks for the sake of balance. Cue every EU work portraying them as flying death traps Made of Explodium.
  • Amusingly enough, Thanos from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has started to become this. Canonically, he is supposed to be the Bigger Bad, The Dreaded and one of the most powerful beings in the Universe, but the fact that, by Phase 2, he has yet to get any of his Infinity Gems (and might have actually lost one) made him quite subject to mockery. Him being betrayed by practically everybody in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and not bothering to actually react probably doesn't help either.

Live-Action TV

Mythology
  • Goliath from The Bible is only remembered as that abnormally large and heavily armored soldier who was easily killed by David, who was roughly half his size, far less experienced, and had practically nothing save for a sling and a rock.

Professional Wrestling
  • Unfortunately for the Wildcat Chris Harris of an otherwise well remembered incarnation of America's Most Wanted with James Storm, Braden Walker is largely remembered for his much more stellar career.

Table Top Games
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Abbadon the Despoiler, or, as fans like to call him, Failbaddon the Armless. Though the character canonically is a very badass and dangerous villain and is one of the most dangerous units in hand-to-hand in gameplay, the fact he led no less than Thirteen crusades against the Imperium, and still failed to destroy it led to the development of his fanon portrayal as a General Failure.
    • While the Imperial Guard is acknowledged to be full of hardcore individuals, as a whole they will never escape their reputation as useless and squishy, losing horribly to anything the galaxy can throw at them. However this is mostly a reputation crafted by their fans, who love the idea of them suffering horribly but still getting back up.

Video Games
  • Touhou:
    • Almost no-one in the fandom treats Hong Meiling as anything other than a joke, who is either getting knifed by Sakuya for sleeping on the job or being so terrible at her job in the first place that everyone in Gensokyo can get into the mansion whenever they want. It doesn't help that the Fighting Gaiden Games show numerous characters getting in the mansion without trouble, with her route in Hisoutensoku being All Just a Dream while she... sleeps on the job.
    • Ran Yakumo is a nine-tailed fox (who are at Physical God levels in the relevant mythology) and EX-Boss. Her role in the fandom is restricted to getting teased by Yukari and squeeing over how cute Chen is. This is probably because her game of origin is the only one that features a Harder Than Hard "Phantasm" stage after the Extra stage, of which the boss is the aforementioned Yukari.
    • In canon, Kaguya Houraisan is an Immortal lunar princess with powerful time-warping abilities, and actually one of the harder bosses in higher difficulties. In fanon, she's a NEET who can't do anything but "HELP ME, EIRIN!!". Note that in the actual game, it's Kaguya who comes to Eirin's aid. However, also note that Eirin is canonically far more powerful than Kaguya.
    • Shou Toramaru will never live down losing the pagoda and having to get Nazrin to find it for her, despite it being her explicit ability to be able to find treasures. Combine this with Nazrin as her Beleaguered Assistant, and you have the perfect comedy duo.
    • Cirno is a bizarre example who gets both the Memetic Badass and Memetic Loser treatment. On one hand you have those who think she has the power to freeze the world, and on the other you have those who think she gets beaten up by other low-level characters (or even frogs) on a regular basis. It helps that she really is weak by Gensokyo character standards, being only a stage 2 (out of seven) boss, and that's on a good day. She is, however, abnormally strong for her species, of which most members are mooks. She's also infamous for her special attack Icicle Fall which, on Easy Mode, can be completely dodged simply by sitting in front of her, even though on all other modes it's actually a very nasty attack.
    • Rika has absolutely zero useful combat powers and relies on using self-built tanks in order to fight. One would think that taking on the ridiculously powerful individuals of Gensokyo like this would be a formula for awesome, and she almost manages to take out the main character of the game, but her whiny personality and tendency to cry after being defeated, causes most people to characterize her as being a Bratty Half-Pint. Despite the fact that her Evil Eye Sigma tank is widely considered to be the hardest extra stage boss of the series.
  • Lunamaria Hawke, thanks mostly to her appearances in the Super Robot Wars games. While she missed a pretty big target once during the series (and the following times she opened fire during the series she had average marksmanship), the games turned it into her having outrageously bad aim (of the "wouldn't hit the moon if she was standing on it" variety) and she became a Joke Character.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man Legends: Teisel Bonne, who is bound to lose whenever he has to fight against Megaman, a highly advanced precursor combat android. He gets captured early in the prequel, to the point that some parts of the fandom think of him as only being capable of this while forgetting all his raiding schemes before Bon Bonne and Tron came onto the scene.
    • Mega Man 2 brings us Metal Man, who is notoriously weak to his own weapon (which is, admittedly, a massive Game Breaker). By "weak", we mean he dies in two hitsnote .
  • Mike Dawson from Dark Seed 2. In the first game, he was fairly competent, but the sequel turned him into a whiny, ineffective, moronic, cowardly manchild who, among other things, spends a sizable chunk of the game finding ways to cheat at carnival games he can't win. One of the last "puzzles" in the game has him figuring out how to open his closet... by just realizing that his mother only pretended to lock it when he was a child and he had never considered that it might have been unlocked at some point in the intervening decades. If you mention this to his mother she makes fun of him. This is canon.
  • Tingle from The Legend of Zelda is a 35 year-old man who dresses in a green onesie and wishes to become a fairy. He's meant to be a Man Child and is loved by the Japanese fanbase... But the Western fanbase love to loath him. When you have a trope called "Americans Hate Tingle" named after you, you know you're a memetic loser.
  • Glass Joe, from Punch-Out!!, is a loser, no questions asked. Look at his win/loss record, though, and notice that he has a record of 99 losses... and one win. This begs the question: who the hell is enough of a loser to be beaten by Glass Joe? (Nick Bruiser, apparently.)
  • Spelunker will forever be remembered as one of the most fragile video game characters of all time for his inability to survive bat guano, pits anyone else could just easily climb out of, or falls greater than a few inches.
  • While the Silver Surfer is unambiguously badass in his usual appearances, his NES incarnation will forever be remembered as a weakling who falls over and Face Palms in shame if he does as little as nudge a rubber duck with his board.
  • Lester The Unlikely gets this for running in fear from sea turtles alone. While he does get better as the game progresses and fights off threats that would terrify normal people such as giant spiders and pirates, players usually never get that far and will always view him as a stereotypical, easily frightened nerd. Even some of those who did make it or at least know about his Character Development view him this way too.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Luigi and the Goombas (for being Butt Monkeys) and Daisy and, Waluigi (for being Demoted to Extra). Luigi has this in a sort of weird way, he's also a Memetic Badass... But it's even more memetic that absolutely nobody will ever give him credit for it.
    • Princess Daisy has gotten this treatment more and more since Rosalina appeared. Rosalina has appeared in Super Smash Bros and playable in a main game before Daisy, who is twenty years older than her. Since Luigi and Daisy are Implied Love Interest's at least they can be losers together.
  • Pokémon:
    • If there is a single Pokémon that is the most well known for being flat out terrible, it's Luvdisc, a pink heart-shaped Pokemon based on a discus fish. Its stats are comparable to basic Pokemon, but it doesn't evolve, nor does it stand out in any other way apart from occasionally holding a useful item.
    • Second to Luvdisc is Spinda, whose only defining characteristic is there are over 4 million possible sprites for it.
    • Magikarp is an in-universe example of this trope: since he has horrible stats and can learn only four moves outside of events, he is systematically perceived by trainers as useless, and even his Pokédex profile describes him as "virtually useless". In Real Life, on the other hand, everyone knows he evolves into the much more badass and useful Gyarados, so he ended up being the opposite of this trope for fans and the Trope Namer for Magikarp Power. This had the side effect of giving the impression that nearly any Pokemon based on a fish is bound to be awful, even when it isn't the case (most of the time anyway).
    • Pokémon that have fallen victim to a Nerf or the general Power Creep of the series is bound to be made fun of by at least part of the fanbase. The biggest victim of this are probably Flareon.
  • Chrom from Fire Emblem Awakening is a very competent unit. But unfortunately he's become the butt of many jokes because of Lucina's and Robin trailer for the fourth Super Smash Bros., where he spent the whole video down for the count (and essentially in the Yamcha pose, no less). He apparently lost to Captain Falcon, so the common joke is that Chrom got Falcon Punched so hard that he was knocked out of the roster.
  • From Monster Hunter:
    • The Jaggi are notorious for being Too Dumb to Live; they'll happily bully the nearest large monster in hopes of keeping control of their territory, only to wish they had not done that a few seconds later.
    • The Great Jaggi, the first large monster that the player faces in the third- and fourth-generation games. The "R.I.P. Great Jaggi ;_;" video shows a Great Jaggi falling into a Pitfall Trap and then getting destroyed by four Gunlance users and Barrel Bomb L+'s in less than 10 seconds. In 4 and 4 Ultimate, the Great Jaggi serves as cannon fodder for the training quests.
    • In games up until the fourth generation, the Plesioth was treated as a Memetic Badass, boasting an infamous disjointed-hitbox hipcheck that can hit you if you so much as stand within a few meters of it. But in 4 and 4 Ultimate, the Plesioth becomes little more than a catchable fish in the Fishing Machine Mini-Game, where catching it causes it to die landing on the wharf.

Web Comics
  • Raditz's usual portrayal as this is played with in Dragon Ball Multiverse. Besides losing on the first round on the main storyline, a minicomic was published which made fun of the concept.

Web Original
  • Say hi to Bad Luck Brian.
  • Mike Dawson from Dark Seed 2 already deserved this status, but the Retsupurae videos of the game just made him look worse. The player decided to be ridiculously thorough, to the point of talking to nearly every character and visiting nearly every area after everything, making Mike look like a moron who could never work out what to do next and had a strange fixation on standing in his bathroom and staring into space. He also lost at the carnival games so many times that it became a Running Gag, to the point that when Mike was supposed to win at ring toss, slowbeef edited the footage and said that according to Retsupurae canon, he didn't win ring toss and never would.
    • Cobra also got this status. He was presented as an inconsistent cad who orders milk at bars, has an obsessive foot fetish, and is deathly afraid of caterpillars.
  • RWBY's Jaune Arc is often portrayed as a wimpy coward in fics, ignoring the part in episode 14 where he beheads a giant demon-bear. note 

Web Video
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Raditz, to the point that Vegeta and Nappa use him as a substitute for "weakling" and measure Power Levels in "Raditzes" (Nappa is five Raditz, and Vegeta is fifteen Raditz).
    • Krillin combines this with Lovable Coward. Krillin Owned Counter, anyone?
    • And of course, Yamcha. In one video the characters even state that the only reason they make fun of Krillin so often is because Yamcha isn't around as much. Word of God posits this is also the reason it wasn't called the Yamcha Owned Counter.
    • Hell, just about every team has their own Memetic Loser, as if there's a diversity quota or something.

Western Animation
  • Ma-Ti from Captain Planet and the Planeteers. To the point that this very Wiki named a trope after the supposed lameness of his powers. When in actuality, Heart Is an Awesome Power, and much more practical than say, his fellow Planteer Wheeler's ability to accidentally burn down a forest if he's not careful (to say nothing of having a power that can never be used directly against the enemy since a children's cartoon could never get away with setting people on fire).
  • Super Friends:
    • NONE of the Super Friends are particularly cool in hindsight, not even the ones based agreed upon Badasses like Batman, even if they were all busy saving the world Once per Episode. It's common in parodies for the Super Friends to be portrayed as overly friendly, old timey, cheesey heroes that wouldn't be able to hold a candle to the Darker and Edgier later interpretations of the Justice League and what they go up against.
    • As noted above Aquaman gets this a lot because of his Super Friends version. Unlike the other heroes on the show though, for a long time it tainted the public's perception of him in other media as well (hence why he also gets his own mention in the comics section).
    • The Wonder Twins are often mocked and parodied for having a cheesey power set. Zan, the one that could take the form of water, gets this twice as hard because of how his power looks next to Jayna's ability to turn into any animal. As pointed in a Cartoon Network spoof commercial he could be beaten by a sponge...and not even an evil sponge.
    • The original Wonder Duo, the powerless kid sidekicks Wendy and Marvin (and the Wonder Dog!) also get this often because of their perceived uselessness and unexplained presence (the powerless kids get to hang out with the all powerful grown up heroes, why exactly?). note  In one comic, alternate versions of them show up as the kids of the villain known as Noah "The Calculator" Kuttler and befriend the Titans only to later get either mauled to death (Marvin) or severely injured (Wendy) by The Wonder Dog (or rather, a shape-shifting demonic dog owned by Ares), deconstructing their presence in a superhuman setting. Wendy at least managed to re-invent herself as the Handicapped Badass Proxy, Babs/Oracole's associate and sort-of Junior Counterpart.
    • The Super Friends versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl are often mocked for having the ability to fly... on a team with an overfilled Flying Brick quota that already has that covered and then some. In a The Fairly OddParents spoof, the Hawkgirl parody had "all the powers of a hawk and a gal!" And was the the last to arrive at a fight each time because how slowly she flew in comparison to the others, and then had her butt handed to to her once she actually got there.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • While the fandom often has arguments over who they consider is "best pony", if there's one pony who lots of people can agree is "worst pony", it's Twist. She's usually mocked because of her dorky appearance and the lispy way she speaks.
    • King Sombra often gets this treatment for being a Generic Doomsday Villain who never actually did much in the present except get Killed Off for Real, despite how he was so Dangerously Genre Savvy in the past he almost won without needing to do anything.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Asami is a Memetic Butt Monkey, with a common joke being she can't be happy for long. The numerous apparent and canonically horrible things that occur to her - anything from her boyfriend cheating on her to her father trying to kill her and much later doing a Heroic Sacrifice - fuels the meme.
    • And then there's Mako, whose loserness is mostly played up by shippers who don't like him due to both his girlfriends breaking up with him then being in a relationship with each other.