Wheezy on Mar 4th 2015 at 5:04:51 AM
Last Edited By:
PistolsAtDawn on Sep 18th 2017 at 7:18:09 AM
Page Type: Trope
Its been a couple years so im moving the examples myself unless the original author comes back <3
So, you want to create a story where terrible things regularly happen to people, but without the audience feeling too sad about their fates? Simple: make everyone a jerk!
All the citizens are apathetic and stupid, most of the humor is sadism-based, and your average Joe punts a few puppies before breakfast. In the more extreme examples, Ax-Crazy killers are allowed to roam free, Blood Sports are common, and no one even notices atrocities because they're too selfish to care. Expect It's All About Me to be the modus operandi of virtually everyone who lives there.
This trope becomes more likely the closer you get to the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. It's also more often than not Played for Laughs and used to facilitate Black Comedy. After all, it's much easier to laugh at the dogs being kicked if they all had it coming. Satirists are also fond of it, especially when they can use different types of jerkism to represent social problems. It's very frequently used to justify video games' cruelty potentials.
Played straight, it's often the signature of a very cynical writer, or even a sign of a Creator Breakdown, reflecting the way they've come to see Real Life. It also runs a high risk of inducing Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy or causing viewers to utter the Eight Deadly Words if there are no nicer characters to make the world seem worth caring about.
A Sister Trope to the Crapsack World, but differentiated by the fact that the only thing that makes it a bad place is that the author's written an unusual number of bad people into it - there's nothing necessarily wrong with the environment, the government, or the living conditions. In fact, it can look perfectly lovely from the outside. Also related to Humans Are Bastards, except that that trope refers to stories where the message is that humans are inherently bad or evil, where this one simply describes any plot or setting containing a disproportionate number of jerk asses. ...And they don't have to be human, either.
- Nyoron Churuya-san. Everyone who isn't Super-Deformed is a jerk (yes, this includes the animals). It's Played for Laughs.
- At first the World of Mana in Cross Ange seems like a pretty nice place to live... except that most of the population display Crosses the Line Twice levels of racism towards those without Mana, and those who lack Mana themselves tend to devolve into vengeful misanthropes as a result. Eventually justified as Mana users being created by a Psychopathic Manchild Emperor Scientist who programmed them with a subconscious urge to slaughter anyone who didn't match his "perfect" designs.
- In Hellsing, Seras, Walter, and Integra are the only characters who aren't Ax-Crazy, sociopathic, mass murdering jerkasses. Pretty much every other named character, from hero to villain, are assholes who crave for bloodlust.
- Several Rob Zombie films are this way, with 31 and Halloween standing out, as even the protagonists are quite hostile most of the time.
- Cannibal Holocaust: Both sides, the explorers and the native cannibals, are completely unsympathetic, and the audience is supposed to enjoy watching them slaughter each other. Only a couple of characters are remotely nice people, and they die too.
- Pink Flamingos, as befits a story where the characters are competing over the title of "filthiest person alive".
- Beautiful Darkness: Literally all of the fairies except Aurora are idiots, self-centered Jerkasses and bullies. Not one of them seems to care as they die one-by-one in various horrible ways, either by dying of their own stupidity or killing each other over petty shit. The audience feels no sympathy for the victims of the Kill 'em All plot.
- The Wicked + The Divine has elements of this. Many of the characters tend to be rude, selfish, and occasionally inconsiderate, and there are even some murderers among them. Even the author has said the book stars ''problematic people doing problematic things." Only exceptions are Dionysus and Minerva, who count as Token Good Teammate.
- Empowered, especially for the first volume or so. Emp is a Failure Hero surrounded by jerkass "heroes" who are usually just as unpleasant as the villains they fight. They treat her as a Butt-Monkey of the group and admit they only let her in for diversity. The citizens are apathetic and tend to stand around and laugh when Emp gets defeated by a villain. Eventually Emp meets Thugboy and Ninjette, who are fairly likeable, and some of the other heroes get more sympathetic.
- Iznogoud: Baghdad, especially from the Tabary era onwards, but already in the Goscinny era. Not only is it governed by the oblivious Caliph and the evil Iznogoud, but Humans Are Bastards in that city, and most citizens are hypocrites who complain all the time about Iznogoud's ruthlessness but are willing to help him for a few bucks, despite knowing the consequences if he's ever successful. In "Chop and Change", after Iznogoud becomes the Caliph for a short time by changing bodies with him and starts unleashing his tyranny, one guy berates the wizard who helped him, but the latter doesn't seem to regret it.
- The Great Gatsby: Tom is a Dumb Jerk Jock, an adulterer, and a racist, Nick is Holier Than Thou while being Not So Above It All, Daisy's The Tease, a Dumb Blonde, and a stepford-smiling Dirty Coward, Jordan's a liar and a cheat, the garage guy's a disgusting loser, his wife's a homebreaking adulterer, and Gatsby himself, while being the most gentle-mannered of the lot, is an epic-scale liar, adulterer, smuggler, and financial frauder. We're still supposed to root for him because he was proactive in seeking upward mobility and couldn't let go of his teenage crush, or something.
- American Psycho. The protagonist is an inhumanly cruel Serial Killer (slash serial rapist slash cannibal) and most of the other characters are puddle-shallow Rich Bitches (and bastards) too focused on luxuries and status to notice anything's wrong. Even some of the murder victims show jerk tendencies. This is a common thread in author Bret Easton Ellis's works. He's said in interviews that in the case of American Psycho, at least, it reflected his disillusionment with the high society he was running in after the wild success of his previous book.
- In Apathy and Other Small Victories, protagonist Shane is an unrepentant asshole, but he's the only one who's honest about it. It soon becomes apparent that almost everyone else in the novel is a jerk as well.
- This is something of a signature for creator Chris Morris. In three of his works (Jam, The Day Today and Brass Eye), everyone who isn't a jerk - or outright Ax-Crazy - will be painfully apathetic to others' suffering, Too Dumb to Live, or a remorseless backstabber.
- The main appeal of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: the main characters are routinely getting themselves into ridiculous, stupid schemes that backfire on them horribly, but the humor works because the main characters are all such jerks and the misfortunes are typically a direct result of their terrible personalities.
- Seinfeld is a downplayed example- Most of the cast are Jerks With A Heart Of Gold, but a lot of the comedy comes from them being jerks to each other.
- A literal, in-universe example occurs in an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, with Jimmy's evil clone creating an evil clone of the Earth and everyone on it.
- The Simpsons: It seriously varies from episode to episode, but the town of Springfield is so full of Jerkasses who are perfectly willing and able to bully or beat the hell out of anything and anybody that gets in the way of their status quo (or gets in the way of their desire to change their status quo, or just plain ticks them off, no matter how small or realistic the slight) that they are proud to be considered the "meanest town in America".
- South Park is a Black Comedy and also subsequently a Sadist Show and have the entire cast full of obnoxious jerks, with the main characters being Good Is Not Nice at best and sociopathic Enfante Terrible at worst.
- Archer is a harsh parody of James Bond and spy stories, where most of the cast are dysfunctional, self-centered, mean and/or stupid.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy is like this, with the kids being cruel to both the Eds and each other at near random, characters holding the Jerkass Ball every episode or so and the adults being either completely missing/apathetic or (in the case of Eddy's brother in the movie), even worse than the other characters.
- Family Guy: The main characters are huge jerks to each other and get away with it. Even the dog and the baby aren't an exception to the general level of Jerkassery in this world.
- The world of Rick and Morty is rather heavily populated by jerkasses. To summarize on a faction by faction basis:
- The titular Rick is an amoral, hedonistic scientist who goes on adventures and has been known to cause chaos. His daughter Beth is a heavily deficient parental figure who almost aborted her daughter Summer, blaming her for not being able to chase her dreams. Beth's now ex-husband, Jerry, is a frequent coward who has attempted to use other people's pity. Morty, who starts out a mild mannered Butt-Monkey, if one with various kinks, develops some serious rage issues after being put through many of Rick's escapades. And then there's his older sister, Summer, who sometimes treats him like crap.
- The Galactic Federation is an intergalactic organization primarily made of the Gromflomites, spans most of the known universe, occupying numerous planets, and is known for its ridiculous bureaucratic and sometimes tyrannical practices, which Rick is opposed to and has committed acts of terror in his fight against them. His issues are brought to light in the season 3 premiere (as well as the GF website that started in the interim), as the now occupied Earth is turned into a Police State, human rights and ways of life are trampled on by the Gromflomites who have replaced all food and currency with pills, subjected various people without consent to experiments, and replaces the Earth calendar with its own, among other arbitrary changes. While Rick has ended up casually murdering many GF soldiers and operatives, few felt bad for the federation when he ignited its collapse by voiding its unit of currency.
- And in yet another corner, we have the Council of Ricks, an interdimensional collective of Ricks and Mortys that formed their own government. Naturally, Rick C-137 criticizes them for being extremely un-Rick because of this, and he's right, as they've been presented as Fascist, but Inefficient.
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