Like the name says, the Professional Butt-Kisser is a career sycophant and Yes-Man
. They don't care who is in charge so long as they're the right hand man. If their current boss were to meet an untimely end (or just get fired/demoted) they will happily offer their services
to their replacement, even if they just saw how the new boss killed the old one! Despite their desire to be close the reins of power, they never harbor any ambitions
of their own boss-hood
, much less betraying their current boss
, at least until the new one pushes them out of the job, anyway.
Just like they lack ambition, they are also devoid of all malice; both because they usually qualify as a Minion with an F in Evil
if their master is a villain, and are in no way sad or angry their last boss is gone. Kind of like a True Neutral
bureaucrat. Interestingly, they are usually at least competent at their job as personal assistant, though rarely to Hypercompetent Sidekick
levels. Where they do
excel is at shmoozing their new boss into accepting them, even to the point of getting an Ax-Crazy
villain to not just let them live, but convincing them they're more useful alive and working for them. Despite their boss' strange, abusive or incompetent behavior, they never feel put out
and seem to derive some strange satisfaction from serving someone so powerful.
It's worth mentioning that despite the utterly slimy nature of the character, they tend to get off fairly lightly in terms of divine retribution
. It may be because of the Stepford Smiler
-like lack of malice, or the lack of concrete evil deeds.
Often doubles as an Obstructive Bureaucrat
and/or Smug Snake
. See also Punch Clock Villain
, Loyal to the Position
(a more positive version) and Battle Butler
. Contrast Chronic Backstabbing Disorder
; both have little loyalty to their allies, but the Professional Butt-Kisser never rebels. See Teacher's Pet
for the Professional Butt-Kisser in training.
See Servile Snarker
for the inversion
, where a character's usefulness allows them to make an occasional jab.
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Anime & Manga
- Diethard from Code Geass is one of these, a Britannian newshound who joins the Black Knights largely because he sees them as the winning party. Later, once Lelouch is betrayed by the Black Knights, Diethard gleefully switches sides and joins Schneizel in his quest to conquer the world.
- Suzaku himself is this to Britannia in hopes of helping Japan by internal change.
- Demagawa in Death Note. Until he gets SAKUJO'ed by Mikami.
- Takayama's secretary in Witchblade. When Takayama resigns as CEO of Doji Corporation and NSWF's Wado takes over, he has no problems with shifting his loyalty to the new boss. He is, however, willing to help Takayama reprogram NSWF's weapons to buy Masane a little more time to defend Tokyo from an onslaught of berserk robots.
- Transformers Cybertron's Thunderblast is this meets My Girl Is a Slut. She doesn't want to be the most powerful, unlike most of the serious villains - she wants to have the ear (and maybe more) of the most powerful. YMMV on whether she is also a parody of Ms. Fanservice.
- One of Maho's nameless teammates in the "Little Army" prequel manga for Girls und Panzer, telling Maho she's always waited for the day in which they can serve on the same tank together, but another teammate throws a water bottle at her head and tells her "Stop using flattery, you schemer!". Ironically, she looks a lot like Emi, who has the opposite problem by being brutally honest even when it upsets others.
- The vice-principal in Futari wa Pretty Cure. His Establishing Character Moment is to change opinions on a dime when speaking to the principal, who calls him out on saying what he thinks the principal wants to hear.
Films — Animation
- Wiggins is this to Radcliffe in Pocahontas, which is why he may come off as gay.
Films — Live-Action
- In Coneheads, INS Agent Seedling's assistant Turnbull (David Spade) manages to become a confidant to the leader of the Coneheads' people after he and his boss are captured and enslaved.
- In Demolition Man, associate Bob manages to survive Doctor Cocteau's death by working with Phoenix to defrost other convicts, and after Phoenix bites it he manages to get employed by the rebel leader Edgar Friendly (who tells him to stop wearing the kimono because he thinks he looks like a couch with it, and pick a hair color).
- Gretchen Weiner, Regina's second-in-command in Mean Girls. After Regina's downfall, Gretchen attaches herself to another Queen Bee. We last see her brown-nosing in Vietnamese!
- Chad in In the Loop takes this trope and tries to turn it into an artform. Unfortunately, he combines it with being a Smug Snake with the result that the people he tries to suck up to barely pay him any attention and everyone else just thinks he's a creep.
- The B-movie Circuitry Man (or possibly it was some other equally-forgettable flick) features a female Mook who is loyal to her "Boss", but cheerfully switches allegiance the instant her current employer gets killed; this happens two or three times in the course of the movie, and at the end, she survives to drive off into the sunset with Boss #4 or #5...
- Comedian Larry Miller is to Professional Butt Kissers what William Atherton and Christopher McDonald are to Smug Snakes; nobody does 'em better.
- Paulie from The Sopranos is a servile brown noser who shows his true allegiance the minute his boss Tony gets indisposed.
- Dr. Jeffrey Steadman from Scrubs.
- Dwight Schrute in The Office. Aside from the few episodes he's fired (and promptly rehired) or trying to usurp Michael's job.
- Phil Smith on The Thick of It.
- An offscreen example from 3rd Rock from the Sun: the family all know that their distant superior, The Big Giant Head, only got his position "by kissing The Big Giant Butt."
- Played for Laughs and subverted with Evaristo Espina from the "La Oficina ("The Office") segment in the oldschool Chilean humor show Jappening con Ja. Personality-wise, he has almost all the markings of the trope... but also is fiercely and genuinely loyal to his boss, Mr. Zaņartu, and this is actually the reason why he is a buttlicker. He's so iconic that in Spanish Chilean slang, the word "espinita" is actually used to define the trope itself.
- Lampshaded in the opening sequence for the skit: when Espina is shown, the background voices start chanting "chupa medias!" ("boot licker") all over. Espina's exact reactions change depending on the episode: in this one, he swats his hand at the audience while trying to protectively shield a picture of Zaņartu.
- Weyoun on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine literally worships the Founders, the rulers of the Dominion. In fact, this trope is the hat of the entire Vorta race.
- Hodges on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He's always out to kiss up to the boss and doesn't really have any ambition, he wants to stay in the lab where he's happy. Grissom used to get terribly annoyed at him sometimes.
- Lieutenant Loren Singer on JAG.
- Milburn Drysdale, president of the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills, in The Beverly Hillbillies.
- Advertising executive Larry Tate (at least toward his clients), in Bewitched.
- Bill McNeil on Newsradio, chiefly towards Jimmy.
- Michael Cole on Monday Night RAW and Friday Night Smackdown usually kisses the butts of just about every heel, except for Daniel Bryan.
- Vince McMahon's "Kiss My Ass" club is a literal version of this.
- The University of Kansas is one of these to the Big 12 Conference, especially during the recent departures of four charter members (possibly due to the fact that they lose teams that they easily beat in basketball).
- Cyrano de Bergerac: This is a more realistic, non villanous example: At Act II Scene VII, Cyrano discusses this trope with Le Bret, claiming that he will defy it. It should be said that in The Cavalier Years and now, this is Truth in Television: An artist is always dependent of patronage.
Cyrano: What would you have me do?
Seek for the patronage of some great man,
And like a creeping vine on a tall tree
Crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone?
Poems to pawnbrokers? Be a buffoon
In the vile hope of teasing out a smile
On some cold face ? No thank you ! Eat a toad
For breakfast every morning? Make my knees
Callous, and cultivate a supple spine,
Wear out my belly grovelling In the dust?
That roots up gold for me? Tickle the horns
Of Mammon with my left hand, while my right
Too proud to know his partner's business,
God gave me to burn incense all day long
Shall I go leaping into ladies' laps
And licking fingers? or to change the form
Navigating with madrigals for oars,
My sails full of the sighs of dowagers?
- The Beadle in SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet. Even to the point of helping his boss rape a totally innocent woman. Sadly cut (to a large extent anyway) in the most recent film, "Ladies and their Sensitivities" shows Bamford blatantly grovelling and ass-kissing the Judge.
- The Simpsons
- Averted by Waylon Smithers, whose devotion to Mr. Burns is genuine and absolute (and, well, more than just professional). It's also implied in one episode to be quite literal in Smithers' case, as he asks Mr. Burns, when the latter claims during a meltdown that he has nothing left but to kiss his sorry ass goodbye, if he could kiss Mr. Burns' ass.
- Played straight with his lawyers though, who absolutely refused to inform him he was making bad decisions even when he was losing everything. Hell, when he did, they still said he made all the right moves and when he called them out, they agreed in the exact same way.
- Transformers Animated
- Sunstorm (Sycophant Starscream) heaps praise and compliments on everyone. He especially praises the original and most brilliant Starscream, and later Megatron. Of course, he's not nearly as awesome as you, wonderful article reader. You're so cool!
- Lugnut too, though only for Megatron. He seems to not only worship Megatron in the most literal sense of the term, but he actually swears by him — and he doesn't hesitate to remind Megatron of this fact in person. Even the megalomaniacal leader of the Decepticons sometimes gets tired of it, but keeps Lugnut around anyway because he's completely reliable.
- Wuya of Xiaolin Showdown happily offers to work for whatever villain happens to be on the top of the evil heap at that particular moment, only to come crawling back to work for Jack Spicer when said villain gets defeated. Justified by the fact that, while Wuya is extremely competent herself, when she's trapped in "spirit form", her inability to physically interact with anything leaves her no choice but to enlist a partner in crime by pretty much any means necessary.