Chuck just can't catch a break.
An odd sort of polar opposite to The Woobie
, The Chew Toy is a character the audience loves specifically because
his or her misery amuses them so. The Chew Toy is roughed up or messed with on a constant basis... and is always, always used for comic effect and treated with a light touch
, generally glossing over the meaner undertones of the idea
Whatever the reason is, these characters just can't catch a break. Did they do something wrong in a previous life? This life?
Or are they just Innocent Bystanders
who look as if they'd blow up in a more amusing manner than anyone else in the crowd? Who knows. Either way, the powers that be tend to inflict punishment on them for seemingly no reason, generally but not always of the slapstick physical variety.
Every. Single. Episode. That's gotta hurt.
Unlike Woobification, Chew Toys are generally designated as such in the series proper, and often have a tendency to bemoan their fate. If they're lucky, the writers will Throw the Dog a Bone
a time or two. If they're unlucky, they'll Yank the Dog's Chain
. It can sometimes be a delicate balance. Throw
too often and the character can be Flanderized
into The Eeyore
too much and the audience may no longer find it funny
If a female Chew Toy is regularly used for physical comedy she probably is also a case of Slapstick Knows No Gender
Compare with the Butt Monkey
(a character who is mistreated regardless of audience opinion), and The Eeyore
(whose depression is usually in excess of their actual mistreatment), and the Iron Buttmonkey
(who seems to suffer injury and accidents more frequently than anyone should, but is capable of taking it). Contrast with The Woobie
, whose suffering inspires sympathy and a desire to make things better for them instead of amusement. The polar opposite is Karma Houdini
, where characters do horrible things while karma (and occasionally the other characters) sits back, watches, and eats popcorn
If the entire cast is made up of Chew Toys of some kind or another, then you're probably watching a Sadist Show
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- In the mid 90s, Pizza Hut had "The Pizza Head Show", starring their mascot at the time, Pizza Head. Pizza Head was an expy of Saturday Night Live's Mr. Bill, and had a nemesis in the pizza cutter Steve who always had it in for him. Typical plots had Steve in his latest role (chef, doctor, superhero, umpire, what have you) showing up to screw Pizza Head over in some fashion, with Pizza Head frequently saying "Hey, he's not a <insert role here>!" to which the announcer would always say "Sure he is!"
- Magic: The Gathering
- The goblins; regardless of whatever world, goblins are always on the short end of the stick. In a twist they can actually be used to devastating effect in the game.
- Squee in particular deserves an honorable mention. He was stuck in a cycle of dying horribly, and then mysteriously coming back to life, just so he could die horribly again. Hell, the usefulness of his in-game card revolved around the fact that it could be discarded/sacrificed/chewed-on over and over, turn after turn.
- A Growing Affection makes Sasuke into this. He gets mind controlled by the Blood Drinker Demon, and has to be rescued by Naruto. He manages to beat Orochimaru, but that turns out to be all part of Orochimaru's plan. He goes after Itachi, only to be defeated and get his team killed by Kisame. He lets Ororchimaru take over his body in return for Orochimaru killing Itachi. Except that during the fight Orochimaru manipulates it so Sasuke learns the truth about Itachi and the Uchiha slaughter (different from canon) rendering everything Sasuke has done pointless. Finally Sasuke sacrifices himself to give Naruto a chance to finish Orochimaru.
- In his career as keyboardist for Rammstein, Christian "Flake" Lorenz has played a suicide bomber, played a suicide jumper, played a hermaphrodite, was electrocuted, abandoned at his spot, cooked, sodomized and made to walk on a treadmill. Though this is a case of mileage varying, some still see him as The Woobie.
- Fat-Blue/Mr. Johnson in Sesame Street. Can't Grover ever get his order right? Even when Grover isn't around, he has bad luck with other restaurants.
- The Muppet Show
- Beaker was brought in as a lab assistant for Dr Bunsen Honeydew to test his inventions on. They invariably went wrong. Over time he began to be used in more skits outside of Muppet Labs, which usually also involved him getting hurt somehow, even if he was the only one taking part in the skit. He seems to be one of the more popular Muppets, however, judging by how frequently he is used (and tormented) in the YouTube videos that The Muppets Studio are currently producing.
- Another in-universe example of the Muppets is Bean Bunny, either finding himself squished inbetween a wall and an opened door, or having piles of props crash on top of him. Word of God has it that it's become something of a break the cutie running gag on the set of Muppet productions.
- Bluebottle of The Goon Show, perhaps the ultimate canonical Chew Toy. "You rotten swine! You have deaded me again! Look, my beautiful nut is all singed!"
- Gerard Hoffnung's "Bricklayer's Lament" monologue, turned into a song called "The Sick Note": a bricklayer falls off a fourteen-story building, suffering numerous amusing injuries along the way.
- Warhammer 40,000
- The Necrons have been going through a phase of Chew Toy status, amusing and pleasing some players to no end.
- The Sisters of Battle are like this to Games Workshop. In almost every piece of fluff they appear in they get killed and mutilated in horrendous and increasing pointless ways. While martyrdom is a theme of the Sisters, it has become overdone.
- There's also the Imperial Guard, while they do have their moments they usually are the ones who suffer the worse ends of everything the Imperium encounters, and die by the billions in every possible outcome in the universe can throw at. Indeed, this tendency is commonly what endears them to their fans, as it underlines the Guard's bravery.
- Forgeworld's Elysian regiments are subject to this; they lose every battle they appear in (three Imperial Armour books so far), and have also suffered disaster in at least one Black Library novel.
- Brave/foolish/insane players can do this to their own characters with the right disadvantage in many game systems:
- GURPS has Unluckiness, and then Cursed for those who really want to get it.
- Humorously, one available in some older rulebooks is Jinxed, which turns everyone but the afflicted character into one while in their presence. For obvious reasons, it has been removed now.
- Fantasy Flight's 40K roleplaying games usually have some variant disadvantage that does this to characters — Only War has "Doomed" which can wreck an entire regiment's life.
- Ko-Ko in The Mikado. His hilarious miseries, in order of appearance: getting thrown in prison for flirting, being ordered to cut off his own head unless he can find someone willing to die in his place; having someone offer to die only on the condition of spending a month married to his fiancée first; ending up feeling so sorry for the substitute that he allows him to elope with the fiancée; getting sentenced to a slow death involving boiling oil, and finally having to marry the hideous, bloodthirsty Katisha in order to save his own hide.
- Virtually every character in Happy Tree Friends.
- Homestar Runner
- Strong Sad is continually put upon by the other characters, who seem to find something repugnant in his odd physical build and unceasing pessimism.
- Although you can occasionally predict how things will swing in a given situation, all the characters are Chew Toys now and again, based mostly on the Rule of Funny; the abuse goes to whoever it's funniest to abuse for this cartoon.
- Katia Managan from Webcomics/Prequel. Nuff said.
- What is interesting about it, is the fact that she is the main character of the comic. Generally, the whole story is about her getting punched by the life hard, and trying to recover. And it's been like this for 3 years.