Pom-Pom Girl

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/darla_cheerleader.jpg

The problem with spectator sports is that the spectators are pretty powerless. Why stay invested in a contest when the only participants you like are clearly doomed to lose it?

But you're not completely powerless. You can't run on the field yourself but you can still help the team and the team needs you! Come, let them hear our support!

This is the job of the Pom-Pom Girl. When the home team's down, when the champ is getting beat around and the fans are losing interest, she draws their attention through dance and acrobatics then works them up into joining her in support of her charge. They still have a chance! Let them know it! The Pom-Pom Girl keeps the spectators engaged, gives them the belief that they can influence the contest they are watching. When the heroes make that successful comeback, fans will be inspired to come back for more and if not, then hopefully she at least let them have some fun even though the favorite they came to see lost.

The Pom-Pom Girl is a stock character and often Truth in Television. Though she does not always carry pom-poms and is not always female, the image of a perky dancer with pom-poms and the chants they tend to inspire are recognizable enough that they often appear outside of the intended cheerleading role. There are sporting events where pom-pom squads have no players to support and simply compete with each other to draw the best crowd reactions or judge's scores. Girls may also dress in frills and hold pom-poms for a special occasion like Halloween or in attempt to cheer someone up. As long as she looks or acts the part it counts, go trope!

In most highschool settings, she'll usually be the star quarterback's girlfriend, or actively crushing on him. And she's just as likely to be at odds with The Cheerleader (her antagonistic counterpart) because of it.

Compare Perky Female Minion, The Face, All Guys Want Cheerleaders, All-Cheering All the Time. For sources of inspiration outside of competitive events, see The Muse and Manic Pixie Dream Girl.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • This advert for Foster's lager, shown in Australia and the UK, is about a cheerleader who triumphs despite a certain, er, adversity.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, the main character is a cheerleader and so are two of her friends (Chiharu and Naoko, who curiously doubles as a Bookworm). Sakura Kinomoto is, of course, the sweetest girl ever.
  • Gary Oak has his own personal pom squad in the Pokémon show, though he loses them after Ash advances further in the Kanto league than him.
    • Dawn from Diamond and Pearl sometime act like a cheerleader and donned a pink cheerleading outfit (her Pokèmon also) to support Ash in his Gym battles with Roark, Maylene and Volkner.
  • Hikari Yagami is a cheerleader in the 22nd episode of Digimon Adventure 02. She's already known to be a very sweet girl. In fact, cheering on and winning the support of their mons is pretty much the job of a chosen child anyway so it's easy to see why she'd take to it.
  • Doraemon has the Cheerleader Gloves, a gadget based on the general cheerleader's "pom-poms". It is used for force a person to cheering on an another person. Often used on Shizuka.
  • Being an American football manga, Eyeshield 21 is rife with them. The main one, Suzuna Taki, is friendly, intelligent and responsible for recruiting most of the others. Achilles was conned into joining the Alexanders on the ruse he could date their cheerleaders.
  • Ganbare Kickers: The titular soccer-team has three cheerleaders that follow the team in every game. While they are primarily interested in the team captain and goalkeeper Masaru Hongo, they always support the whole team.
  • Mikuru from Haruhi Suzumiya when Haruhi forces her to be a cheerleader. She is seen with this outfit also in the anime opening.
  • The cheerleaders of Heroman aren't really fleshed out besides Lina, but from what we do see of her is nice and all around cool to with.
  • The three cheerleaders of Mahou Sensei Negima!. Madoka, Sakurako and Misa are more or less fun-loving girls of average intelligence, unless you count Misa's plan to "score points" with the 10-year-old Negi so that she'll have a cool younger boyfriend once he grows up a bit. A plan the others heartily embrace.
  • Lisa from Popcorn Avatar pretty much becomes Kurando's literal cheerleader, and even dresses for the part. This is justified in a way, as there's very little Lisa can do but cheer for Kurando, as she can't intervene directly in avatar battles.
  • Mariko Konjo from Ranma ˝, a powerful cheerleader who also mastered "Martial Arts Cheerleading" fighting style, which can turn even frilly pom poms into deadly weapons. And to fight and defeat her, female Ranma has to learn this martial art, so s/he counts as this too.
  • Ai Kaminari alias Yatterman-2 from Yatterman in few episodes where she cheer during the mini-robots battle with a cheerleader outfit, but without pom-pom.
    • A villanous example with Mirenjo in another Time Bokan show, Yattodetaman. In episode 2 she start an exibition during the battle in a cheerleader outfit that end with a Wardrobe Malfunction distracting for a second the heroes mecha. She use a similar outfit in the OVA when his team face the Skull Lease trio.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics has Betty Cooper, who is a sweet, intelligent Girl Next Door. Granted, with the large amount of Negative Continuity in the Archie series, she's only a member of the cheerleading squad when the plot requires it; you're just as likely to see her watching a game from the bleachers instead of cheering from the sidelines.

    Comic Strips 
  • Paige in FoxTrot has shown interest in the sport a few times and even made the squad for a brief arc. While she does clearly enjoys taunting her brothers, she can't really be classified as either mean or clueless, at least not any more clueless than the other characters.

    Fan Works 
  • Tsumugi Nikaido from Rhythmic Pretty Cure joins Altair Private Academy's Roaring Tigresses cheer squad in chapter 8 (she had been attending tryouts since at least some time before chapter 2). While a bit rough on the edges, being a tomboy and all, she does make a point of making it clear that cheerleading is not something to be taken lightly and is in fact as much a sport as, for example, baseball.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Genie from Aladdin takes on a pom squad appearance during the battle between Aladdin and Jaffar, but is reduced to lazily waving a flag around after Jaffar berates him for it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bring It On, which is probably the first time cheerleading was portrayed as a genuine athletic pursuit in media. Although a couple of Alpha Bitches are on the squad, the movie serves to debunk a lot of stereotypes associated with cheerleaders. Missy is an Audience Surrogate who learns just how important cheerleading actually is.
  • Fired Up! plays with the stereotypes but ultimately portrays cheerleaders with affection and some respect.
  • In But I'm a Cheerleader, the protagonist even explains to another character why she loves cheerleading, and using it as a form of self-expression turns out to be a major plot point in the climax. Oh, and she's gay.
  • DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story has a likable male cheerleader as one of the main cast and his cheerleader love interest is also depicted very positively. It also what is possibly the first male cheerleader in film to fit the other trope.
    Peter: Hang on a second. You wanna become a cheerleader to prove you are not a loser?
    Justin: Yeah, why?
    Peter: Nothing. High school's changed a bit since I was a kid.
  • The Blind Side, which is largely about football player Oher, has Collins as a cheerleader.
  • Heather McNamara from Heathers is presented as the nicest of the Alpha Bitch Girl Posse and is the only cheerleader of the group.
  • The cheerleaders in such 1970s sexploitation films as The Cheerleaders, The Swinging Cheerleaders and Revenge of the Cheerleaders are a little bit elitist, it's mostly directed at the extremely uptight bookworms and they do all fall under Ethical Slut, as there's not a single virgin cheerleader on the team in any of these films. They frequently use the tactic of having sex with the opposing team the night before a game until they're too exhausted to play the following day.
  • In American Beauty both Jane and Angela are cheerleaders. While Angela is incredibly vapid and self obsessed, we get to see her Hidden Depths and she seems good natured enough. Jane in any other film would be a Cool Loser but is mentioned to genuinely care about cheerleading.
  • Ali from The Karate Kid (1984), who is one of the few kids who spends most of the film encouraging the protagonist rather than putting him down.
  • The title character of I Love You, Beth Cooper is a Lovable Alpha Bitch/Manic Pixie Dream Girl with Hidden Depths (even if she Drives Like Crazy); her fellow cheerleader friends are also basically nice girls.
  • Major Houlihan from M*A*S*H takes this to Genki Girl levels while cheering for her team as they battle a rival infantry unit in football. Played for Laughs as Houlihan knows zero about football, and actually cheers when Trapped John is sacked in the end zone for a safety.

    Literature 
  • Though it's technically not cheerleading, the characters in The Kayla Chronicles assume the girls on the school dance team are shallow and appearance-oriented, only to find that most of them are intelligent and willing to stand up for themselves when necessary.
  • Flores Quintera in Spellsinger turns out to be a very intelligent Action Girl suffering from a glass ceiling. She wanted to be an astronaut, but she's too pretty to be taken seriously and living in the 1970s, so she ended up taking a communications course at university to get in on the public relations end of the space program, and only joined the cheerleading squad because women at her university aren't allowed to join the actual football team.
  • In The Squad by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the cheerleaders are the members of a Junior CIA group and flaunt ditziness and/or bitchiness as an act to maintain their cover and keep people from probing them too closely. Chloe is genuinely bitchy to Toby, but that's because she thinks that the addition of Toby to the squad threatens her position on it, given their common area of expertise.
  • In one of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelisations Sabrina ends up swapping lives with Libby and is nearly half-killed after one cheerleading practice, not realising how much athleticism it takes. Libby's Girl Posse are portrayed as bitches, naturally, but one of the other cheerleaders also invites Sabrina out to a concert.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cindy on Freaks and Geeks, though subverted in that she was nice and smart but also shallow and humorless.
  • In Eureka the city is composed entirely of geniuses, even the athletes, and the cheerleaders entertain themselves by talking about chaos theory in between games.
  • On Glee, Santana and Quinn start off as alpha bitches, but then Quinn becomes a Lovable Alpha Bitch, and there turns out to be a reason for Santana's bitchiness. Brittany also seems like a Dumb Blonde, but she is really much more of a Cloud Cuckoolander. Mercedes and Kurt are the only straight happy help you cheerleaders from the start.
  • Jenny on The Hard Times of RJ Berger is a total Spoiled Sweet Cheerleader. She's so sweet that she's in a Betty and Veronica with the main character and his childhood friend with a crush on him and manages to be the likeable one!
  • As a TV show about college cheerleaders, Hellcats has all kinds of personalities in the squad, only one of whom isn't upbeat and encouraging(and still isn't too bad once one gets to know her). Ironically, they're never once seen cheering for the football team, but said team is scene cheering on the squad once.
  • Claire of Heroes was a good person who enjoyed parts of cheerleading. At college she meets a girl she starts to make friends with who was also a cheerleader.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! argues that some feminist activists who argued that cheerleading should not be classed as a sport were driven by their anti-cheerleader prejudices. Most of the real-life cheerleaders who appear in their show generally fit the normal well-adjusted teenager model.
  • Power Rangers Turbo. Ashley Hammond, the energetic fashion designer, mechanic and second Yellow Turbo Ranger is also a cheerleader.
  • In Saved by the Bell Kelly and Lisa are on the cheerleading squad. Lisa does veer into Alpha Bitch territory occasionally but is still good-natured. They both get offended when Jessie calls cheerleading "silly", and Jessie herself eventually joins the squad too.
  • The Small Wonder episode "The Reluctant Halfback" has Vicki and Harriet as football cheerleaders.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place, Harper is the nice, smart, peppy, straight version. Alex can be a bitch and is Book Dumb but she didn't want to be a cheerleader anyway and was tricked into it by Justin.
  • An episode of The Worst Witch featured Cackle's putting together a basketball team to face another girl's school. Miss Bat assembled a cheerleading squad made up of sympathetic Clarice and Sybil.

    Music 
  • The Connells' "74-75" has an intro performed by pom girls in some versions of the music video for the song.
  • Toni Basil recorded the pop song "Mickey" in 1981, complete with music video, in cheerleader get-up. She plays a cheer bunny urging her boyfriend to remain faithful and attentive.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible, the Seraphim function as this for God Himself! They have six pairs of wings, but only one pair is used for flying. The others are used to cover their faces and feet because apparently the trope Holy Is Not Safe applies to them too. And praising God is literally all they ever do. They are not adolescent girls, just highly specialized Winged Humanoids.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • GLOW had several wrestlers with a cheerleader and pom pom motif, especially Debbie Debutante and Susie Spirit, and they were always babyfaces.
  • Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch's first gimmick after leaving Smokey Mountain Wrestling was that of baby face cheerleaders. Crowds recognized them from Smoky Mountain and wouldn't let them forget that they had killed Boo Bradley's cat, so the gimmick failed.
  • Stacy Keibler's cheer leading background was frequently brought up, more so when she was face. She occasionally wore her Baltimore Ravens uniform and performed a routine for the fans.
  • The Ballard Bros brought The Power Twins to Ultimate Pro Wrestling. They usually didn't dress the part, instead having the gimmick of wearing lots of wild and vibrant outfits but otherwise fit the part, mainly existing to work up the crowd through singing and dancing(or horrify them when they got attacked). The twins went on to be central to a Coors Light ad campaign. The Ballards also brought Cheerleader Melissa from All Pro Wrestling, who was a lot meaner than the twins even after her Heel–Face Turn but did dress the part and carry poms.
  • Randi Rah Rah and Patti Pep, the cheerleaders from the Women Of Wresting promotion. Pep was corrupted, renamed Patti Pizzazz and made into the person assistant of the evil delusional actress Lana Star but ended up being fired by Star for being too kind and for maintaining her friendship with Rah Rah.
  • Male Cheerleader Bryce Benjamin took up this role after the NWA All-stars turned face...when he wasn't wrestling himself anyway.
  • CM Punk's initial gimmick in Ohio Valley Wrestling was that of a pom pom cheerleader with Alexis Laree drug into it for good measure. Punk, to his credit, was really enthusiastic and tried really hard to make it work but no one, not even the "writer" who came up with the idea, liked it and Paul Heyman killed The Gimmick dead...until it was resurrected for Johnny, Mickey, Kenny and Mitch of the Spirit Squad. They were initially presented as unhelpful examples whose "cheering" caused Jerry Lawler to lose a match but were later played straight when they came back together to fight The Flood out to kill off Chikara.
  • Wrestlicious has Amber Lively, the perky and friendly cheerleader, which is a nod to GLOW and WOW before it.
  • The fifth season of WWE Tough Enough actually had the contestants be required to perform a cheerleading stunt. Each of the contestants learned how much skill the activity requires and the importance of balance and grace overlaps with wrestling quite a bit. Tomboy Ivelisse later said this was her favourite challenge.
  • Shazza McKenzie, "The cheerleader without any cheerleading experience", though she is sometimes bullied by other wrestlers who don't care about that part and just hate cheerleaders in general, eventually leading to a Who's Laughing Now? Face–Heel Turn. Still, she happily poses for the fans at the sound of the bell by reflex.
  • They started out as evil pole dancers who shadowed Byron Saxton in the FCW revival but when they became Brodus Clay's, and later R-truth's, minions, The Funkadactyls, switched to being happy dancing, if still somewhat seductive, cheerleaders who waved pom poms in support of their men, or each other if they had to wrestle.
  • On the World Wrestling Network's China tour, all the the Dragon Gate USA, Full Impact Pro and SHINE wrestlers were provided friendly professional cheerleaders, which resulted in even some of the nastiest wrestlers getting cheered.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • Plusle and Minun are Moe electric mouse-thingies that always cheer on other members of the party (and are said to cry when their teammates lose).
    • The Pom-Pom Style Oricorio is designed after a cheerleader, with it having pom-poms in the tips of its wings, and it is known to cheer Trainers up who are feeling glum by dancing.
    • One of Trainer Classes in Pokémon Black and White are Backers, with the female variant being two cheerleaders, and they can be found either in the Big Stadium or Small Stadium.
  • Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan centers around a group of men who help people achieve difficult tasks by cheering them on. It's sister project Elite Beat Agents centers around state sponsored cheerleaders, though the agents look more like Men in Black than pom girls.
  • One of the two protagonists of Project X Zone, Mii Koryuji, is also a high school cheerleader. Though she does berate her mentor Kogoro a lot.
  • Juliet of Lollipop Chainsaw. She's also a zombie-slaying Action Girl.
  • Clem (who is a boy) and Crystal from Psychonauts act like cheerleaders and often cheer for the other character. They're nice kids but are also suicidal Stepford Smiler's.
  • Megumi Suzuki from Asuka 120% is the Cheerleading Squad representative in the annual fighting tournament of her school's culture festival.

    Web Comics 
  • Alex, Sam, Lita and Jo of The Wotch and Cheer!! aren't exactly typical girls, they're the collective embodiment of pep and affability.
  • In Vicki Fox, her new roommate Ceri worried about having the bunk with a cheerleader but end up finding her tolerable.
  • Caliban Academy's cheerleaders from Kevin & Kell seem pretty ordinary. Then again, not many have been shown, and only once did a named character go for it — Corrie, who drew some slight attention for her wool pompoms.

    Web Original 
  • Gregg Easterbook of ESPN.com takes time out of his football column every week to highlight some NFL cheerleader who is well educated (most of them are) or has a day job helping others.

    Western Animation 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    • The Chipettes in the episode "The Gang's All Here" where thay come as cheerleaders initially to help The Chipmunk in their battle against a gang called the Steam Rollers. However, when the boys need help, they are quick to enter the ring.
    • The episode "Quarterback in Curlers" has Alvin take this role when Brittany, the head cheerleader in the school, join in the football team and quits cheerleading. They don't fit well in their new positions as Alvin makes selfish cheers and Brittany uses overly complicated plays.
  • Penny from The Amazing World of Gumball is a cheerleader and one of the nicest characters on the show. She and the title character have crushes on each other. The other cheerleaders shown (Teri, Sarah, Molly, Carmen, and Leslie) are all vary degrees of sweetness too.
  • Lisa, Amy and Janet from American Dad!, though their support of athletics earns them the ire of gym-class-hating Debbie Hyman.
  • Brittany in Daria is the head cheerleader. And though she is portrayed as particularly empty-headed, she is Spoiled Sweet otherwise, and does care for her just as dumb but more stupid than really mean boyfriend Kevin.
  • Malina, the main female character of The Emperor's New School, is a cheerleader who cares about studies and ethics. In fact, one episode shows that cheerleaders at Kuzco Academy are required to keep high grades and that A minus isn't considered high enough.
  • The eponymous heroine in Kim Possible. The other cheerleaders are also really nice and seem to have average intelligence, while Kim's archrival, Bonnie Rockwaller, is truly the only mean-spirited cheerleader on the squad and Tara's the only one implied to be a Brainless Beauty.
  • Peggy became a cheerleading coach in an episode of King of the Hill but only the ex-coach is truly mean-spirited (and villainous for focusing on the cheerleading competitions instead of cheering on the football team). Connie even joins the squad, and while there are few mild jokes alluding to the girl's cattiness they're not portrayed too stereotypically.
  • The Little Rascals, episode "Rascals' Revenge": At the start of the episode, Darla is a cheerleader in Alfalfa and Spanky's informal football game (and the page image).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Rainbow Falls": Resident Genki Girl Pinkie Pie takes it upon herself to cheer on the Ponyville team at the qualification rounds for the Equestria Games. The bookworm Twilight also becomes increasingly interested in Pinkie's cheerleading routine over the course of the episode—and joins Pinkie's impromptu cheer squad in time for the competition.
    • "The Cart Before the Ponies": Among the fillies and colts spread out over the course in this role at the Applewood Derby, Cheerilee also signals the start of the race.
  • Nerds and Monsters: Becky becomes a quite enthusiastic cheerleader in "Monster Ball", despite Irwin claiming she is too intelligent to be seduced by that kind of role.
  • Total Drama. Four different characters over the course of the show, though Lindsay is a Brainless Beauty and Samey of Pahkitew Island is a good cheerleader but has to deal with an evil twin sister.
    • Courtney briefly became this in "Action" when, for a challenge, she tries to teach her shark to cheer and start a dancing with two pom pom like example.
  • Miss Martian/M'Gann in Young Justice joined the cheerleading squad but is one of the heroes, as well as being usually a friendly and nice person. And the entire cheer squad seems to be pretty decent people. Karen Beecher goes on to become the superheroine Bumblebee, while Wendet Harris becomes a good friend to several of the heroes in their civilian identities and provides some much-needed emotional support and stability to them.
  • Where's Huddles?: Ed Huddles has a two-year old daughter named Pom Pom, who wears a sweater and a pleated cheerleader skirt.

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