"After all, it is necessary to get behind someone before you can stab them in the back."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 to 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.
—Sir Humphrey, Yes, Minister
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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 DELETED 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.
- Zipi y Zape: Peloto is built around this trope. Also Lechuzo, Peloto's crony is Peloto's very own but-kisser.
Films — Animation
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.
- James Spader plays one in Mannequin.
- Casper in The Story of Henri Tod (one of the Blackford Oakes series) gives the impression of this very much in the early part of the story.
- There is a character exactly like this in the trope-filled novel Stolen from Gypsies.
- The Igors in Discworld work like this — perfectly loyal until the torch-and-pitchfork brigade come calling, then it's out the back door to find a new master. Genre-savvy characters have taken advantage of this to ask them how to get in and out unobtrusively.
- In one of the Animorphs books, the gang encounters a computer with all the information they need. With every question they ask the computer, the computer responds with everything it knows, with an absolute bare minimum of four glorifications to Visser Three.
Tobias: How exactly do you program a computer to kiss butt like that?
- Mr. Collins of Pride and Prejudice is the Regency equivalent of this; while Lady Catherine de Bourgh is not exactly his boss, he does depend on her goodwill for future advancement, and ensures this goodwill (or, given Lady Catherine's overall disagreeable character, something close to it) through shameless grovelling to the point where he's sucking up to her when she's not even in the local vicinity. He even fulfills the "switching allegiances when necessary' part of the trope; when Elizabeth and Darcy are rumored to be engaged to marry, he writes Elizabeth's father a letter expressing Lady Catherine's condemnation of the engagement. Mr. Bennet writes back once the engagement becomes a reality and points out that, if he was to get in Darcy's good books, things would be even better for him. Mr. Collins' objections suddenly cease.
- Percy Weasley becomes this in the later books after he joins the Ministry of Magic, sucking up to anyone who is at all important. At one point he bows so low that his glasses fall off and shatter. In the fourth book, he keeps standing up when the Minister greets important guests it looks like he's trying to sit on a hedgehog.
- In The Tome of Bill, most vampires tend to be this. Sunset Strip actually explains this: true leaders are extremely rare, and they tend to want to lead, not follow. An entire society based around the best and the brightest would quickly devolve into civil war as they all vie for dominance, so it's the weak-minded but physically capable people that get turned more often than not.
- Dr. Jeffrey Steadman from Scrubs.
- Dwight Schrute in The Office (US). 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.
Brunt: It's never too late to suck up to the boss!
- Same for Liquidator Brunt (Who, coincidentally, is also played by Jeffrey Combs) of the Ferengi Empire. In his own words when Rom is made the Grand Nagus:
- This is a paraphrasing of Rule of Acquisition #33: "It never hurts to suck up to the boss." Since the Ferengi treat the Rules as their version of The Bible, it can be said that this trope is part of their religion.
- Hodges on CSI. 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.
- Dr. Lawrence Bingham in Doctor at Large and Doctor in Charge is a shameless brown-noser, always grovelling to his superior, Professor of Surgery Sir Geoffrey Loftus, in an attempt to get ahead in his profession. However, he is not above switching his allegiance to other doctors or even other hospitals if he thinks it will help him further his career as a surgeon.
- This exchange in Dinosaurs;
Mr. Ashland: This is a disaster!B.P. Richfield: But nothing a chief executive of your power and authority can't handle, right sir?Mr. Ashland: Quit being a butt-kisser, Richfield.Richfield: Yes, sir.Mr. Ashland: You know what I do to butt-kissers, Richfield?Richfield: No, sir.( Ashland points to a head mounted on a wall)
- Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
- Paulie from The Sopranos is a servile brown noser who shows his true allegiance the minute his boss Tony gets indisposed.
- Michael Cole on Monday Night RAW and Friday Night Smackdown usually kisses the butts of just about every heel, except for Daniel Bryan.
- After his Heel-Face Turn, though, he finally stops being this. But JBL takes over as this, supporting every decision post-Face-Heel Turn Triple H makes even if it's bullying someone. The odd thing is that back in 2004-2005 when JBL was an active wrestler and both he and Triple H were heels, they still badmouthed each other.
- 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 treeCrawl upward, where I cannot stand alone?No thank you! Dedicate, as others do,Poems to pawnbrokers? Be a buffoonIn the vile hope of teasing out a smileOn some cold face ? No thank you ! Eat a toadFor breakfast every morning? Make my kneesCallous, and cultivate a supple spine,Wear out my belly grovelling In the dust?No thank you ! Scratch the back of any swineThat roots up gold for me? Tickle the hornsOf Mammon with my left hand, while my rightToo proud to know his partner's business,Takes in the fee? No thank you! Use the fireGod gave me to burn incense all day longUnder the nose of wood and stone? No thank you!Shall I go leaping into ladies' lapsAnd licking fingers? or to change the formNavigating with madrigals for oars,My sails full of the sighs of dowagers?
- The Beadle in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. 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.
- Simmons from Red vs. Blue, commonly referred to by Grif as a "kiss-ass". And not just Grif: pretty much anyone who's ever met Simmons is aware of his sycophancy. On one occasion, Sarge decided to forego commanding them to do something useful and just commanded them to do what they were going to do anyway (except for Grif, who made sarcastic remarks instead). Simmons' order was "kiss ass at will," which he did, with gusto.
Simmons: You're both an excellent leader and a handsome man, sir.
Sarge: Excellent work, Simmons.
- Qarr The Imp from The Order of the Stick has this as his personnal motto. At first working for Kubota by order of his higher-ups (well, lower-ups, since they're from the Lower Planes), he then tries to bind himself to Vaarsuvius (who killed Kubota) and ends up at the service of the IFCC. As he phrased it—
Qarr: See, the first lesson of being 18-inches tall is: Find someone more powerful than you are, and glue your lips to their ass.
- This is Colts QB Andrew Luck's character in NFL Quarterbacks On Facebook; he gives thanks and is nice towards other quarterbacks, whether he wins or loses games.
- 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.
- Chief Wiggum has been known to act like this towards Mayor Quimby (who called him a "glorified crossing guard" in one episode). For example, if Quimby is too afraid of Fat Tony to act on him, Wiggum and the other police leave Tony alone, but if Quimby changes his mind, so does Wiggum. (As seen in "Mayored to the Mob".) Wiggum acts this way towards Mr. Burns sometimes too, in one episode complimenting him on his reckless driving.
- Skinner tries to be this to Superintendent Chalmers oh so hard, but being a high-quality buzz-kill, way too eager to please (to the point that in trying to please Chalmers he instead ruins things hard) and with his school being such a hell-hole (and Depending on the Writer, Chalmers being in favor or against this), Chalmers utterly hates Skinner's guts (to the point that Chalmers' Catch Phrase is him yelling Skinner's name (and on latter seasons, he just cannot say Skinner's name (or anything that vaguely sounds like "Skinner") in any other 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.