Follow TV Tropes

Following

Deconstructed Character Archetype / BoJack Horseman

Go To

For the Deconstructed Trope page, go here.

Likewise the many tropes that the show deconstructs, Bojack Horseman also masters the ability of presenting complex characters that do not fit the standard archetypes they're assigned.


  • Abusive Parents: Having asshole parents will make your upbringing difficult and your adult life even more so.
    • Beatrice (nee Sugarman) and Butterscotch Horseman abused BoJack throughout most of his life. However, both are shown to have had harsh lives. Beatrice, for example, had a Surprise Pregnancy and is a bitter Impoverished Patrician. Butterscotch, on the other hand, is a Jaded Washout who had suddenly learned that he was a father. Their bitterness for their situation — that is, being unhappily married with a kid — is channeled at each other at first, but BoJack inevitably becomes the target of their bitter hatred of one another.
      • BoJack attempts to come to terms with this in "Free Churro," an episode which is almost entirely one long speech about his complicated relationship with his mother. The episode's name comes from BoJack telling a girl behind the counter at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant that his mother was dead, prompting her to give him a free churro. In that one act of kindness, she showed more compassion to BoJack than Beatrice ever did. However, BoJack acknowledges that "my mother is dead, and everything is worse now," reflecting on how there was always that potential for Beatrice to finally say something nice about him, and now it's gone.
    • Advertisement:
    • Ma and Pa Nguyen are happily married with several children, but they abused their only daughter, Diane, while spoiling their sons. By being coddled for most of their lives, the sons became immature men who refuse to leave their parents' house. Diane grew into an insightful, self-reliant woman, though she suffers from an inferiority complex and desperate need for acceptance. Upon returning home for a visit, Diane learns that her family remains abusive towards her and that her mother actually resents her for being self-reliant.
    • Mother Carolyn was no different with her low work morale resulting in Princess Carolyn often being required to cover for her since she was a little kitten. It's heavily implied that her tendency to drink was the catalyst for her negligence rather than malice like the former examples. Not that it made a lick of a difference: a certain agent might not be the amoral figure she is had things gone differently. Or be as obsessed with work to cripple her from having a life outside of it.
    • Advertisement:
    • Not all Abusive Parents have to be knowingly abusive or even intentionally malicious. Sometimes, all that's needed is a rather flawed perspective, an underlying negative trait that can cloud even the best judgement. Just ask Mom and Dad or even Grandma Peanutbutter. Of course, they wouldn't probably acknowledge such traits even if it became painfully clear they had them; such is the power they have to remain willfully oblivious to the downsides of life. Both Captain and Mister have been educated with the idea of being chipper, outwardly happy and positive toward everything, even if they feel otherwise. Dark thoughts? Nothing to worry about. Constant failures? Mustn't have had enough will. Fainting spirit? Project your sense of wonder into other people, what's inside doesn't matter! Still, that energy has to leak somewhere else, yet the perspective is so ingrained within the two, that makes them unable to express themselves the way they should: Mr. Peanutbutter will resort to Passive-Aggressive Kombat whenever something's bothering him or he feels upset and will outright fall into depression when given some (admittedly) bad news; Captain, for his part, can't admit to having been troubled over something serious to his brother unless it's by proxy and it can still be tough to rely the message when he's conditioned to not talk or recognize it as something that needs to be talked about.
      • Add to this idea a hefty amount of Deliberate Values Dissonance, and you have the Sugarman family. While Beatrice's parents telling her that as a girl, she should only be expected to be be a perfect wife and mother may be shocking in this day and age, this was a commonplace mentality in the 1940s; however, things go From Bad to Worse after Beatrice's brother, CrackerJack, is killed in action in World War II. Honey Sugarman's unchecked grief over her son's death results in her endangering Beatrice in a car accident and begging her husband to "fix" her, culminating in a lobotomy, and making Beatrice promise not to love anyone that much ever again. Joseph Sugarman was callous and emotionally distant, telling his young daughter that "crying is stupid" and threatening Beatrice with her mother's condition to make her behave. Because of this, Beatrice was unable to openly express emotions such as love or fear, resulting in her loveless relationship with Butterscotch and their abuse of BoJack.
  • Advertisement:
  • Addled Addict: Sarah Lynn is a living snorting machine with bodily and motor functions downgraded to as basic as they get for the classic junkie, only mixed with the glamour that comes with the celebrity status: get some fix and look good while doing it, including having a physician to self medicate and unlimited access to prescription pills. She can barely keep her senses together without dope, often confusing people, forgetting certain important things, forgoing social conventions and putting herself in danger of bodily pain on exaggerated reactions to small things. Movements, reflexes, almost none left. Behavioral pattern of conduct; too similar to real life junkies: crash in, smooch off and get drug money, while playing off sympathies. Horrifically enough, this is capped with her own self-awareness of this, as well as her quiet and sad acceptance that someday her abuse will catch up to her. Come Season Three - she got sober for nine months... until Bojack helped her fall off the wagon and she died of an overdose.
  • Amicable Exes: Good in theory, difficult to maintain in practice.
    • Diane is forced to endure his ex Wayne's company when he writes an article on Mr. Peanutbutter for Buzzfeed. This puts a strain on her current relationship since it ends up highlighting and contrasting the many ways PB fails to understand her (and compensates for it) compared to Wayne's synchrony with her tastes (and brings out her worst qualities with his negativity). Once Diane feels he's overstayed his welcome, she discovers Wayne finished the article a long time ago and hung around to try to woo Diane again. Once he leaves, Diane is left to ponder whether her similarities with Wayne means she hasn't changed enough to be with Mr. Peanutbutter.
    • A pretty complex take in the case of BoJack's relationship with Princess Carolyn. They start the series as a (dysfunctional) couple who's always having ups and downs. This goes on for a while until Diane comes along. As they both work their issues separately, they both come to the realization that their intimate relationship is toxic and should only deal with each other in a professional level. While capable of being amiable to each other on a limited basis, their relationship is still far from perfect: BoJack gets mad at the level of effort Princess Carolyn puts into work and she loathes his neediness. It's not that they outright hate each other, they just know each other too well to make a good chemistry.
    • Kelsey and her ex-wife also count. While their relationship is implied to be far from okay, it's shown that the main reason for this is that Kelsey has to carry the lion's share of their daughter Irving's expenses, including possible college options, while her ex stays comfortable just getting through life without a care. Judging by the bitter tone in Kelsey's voice when she mentions it, this was the reason for their breakup. Not that it stopped them from getting into conflict, be it from clashing lifestyles and assessments from the divorce.
    • Mr. Peanutbutter's relationships with his two ex-wives, Katrina and Jessica, has never been friendly in any way but still, this being Hollywoo, they can at least superficially pretend to stand each other in a proper way. Or so it seems: rage, sadness and resentment die hard when the object of ire is near and upon closer inspection during the governor campaign, it's shown even this fake amiability has thorns. Katrina, always the Control Freak, is incapable of standing PB during long periods of time because of their intelligence contrast and is using him as a Puppet King for prison contractors, Jessica is superficial and power hungry enough that she can feel just as PB yet be just as disgusted by his lack of ambition, and Mr. Peanutbutter often implies that he keeps the happy façade to keep an eye on them since, as it's later revealed, the possibility that those two would get friendly with each other is bad news for him.
  • The Atoner: Due to the setting, many characters often backstab each other, later feeling regretful over what they did and seeking to make amends. Very few get forgiveness, however, and several actually apologize for their misdeed instead seeking to get some relief of their guilt with the reasons behind it incredibly selfish. Even if it's a true to heart apology, the person in question is portrayed within his/her right to accept or reject the apology with the person having to deal with the fallout regardless of what it does to him. It doesn't help that the majority is at a loss of how to be genuinely apologetic or only willing to atone for what they do when pinned against the wall.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Sebastian St. Claire is a Wealthy Philanthropist who's doing charity in the ravaged country of Cordovia, along with his assistant Kinkou. One of them is an egocentrical, mentally disturbed man whose good actions stem from guilt and pity rather than good will and altruism and couldn't care less about the people in the country unless it makes some kind of good publicity. The other is a frightened young boy whose parents have died and for whom the badass is nothing more than an Abusive Parental Substitute, constantly sending him on dangerous missions as part of his job. To really seal the deal, Kinkou is killed during a bomb attack and Sebastian thinks nothing of it.
  • Bastard Boyfriend:
    • BoJack acts and behaves this way towards Princess Carolyn at the beginning of the series. However, it's not because he hates her, or because he's intentionally being cruel; more because he's too Love Hungry and selfish to truly focus on a serious relationship with her. The fact that his mood can often make her the target of his ire by venting his frustrations or obsessive love and clinging doesn't help at all. In a way, the relationship is an example of what happens when an arrogant, yet insecure individual hangs up to a much more well stable partner for solace.
    • Mr. Peanutbutter is not a bad dog, but his dismissal of anything complicated or depressing and focus only on the things he thinks are happy and good for everybody makes him a charming and insufferable individual all the same. He never listens to anything his loved ones say (which is the reason he's thrice divorced), oversteps anybody else's desires to fit his train of thought, is dangerously oblivious to any of life's shortcomings and injustices (poverty, death, sexism, depression, Hollywoo's toxicity), is often distracted and rarely pays attention to anyone in particular and his perception of affection is narrow and way too opaque to work in real life. Like BoJack, this only highlights his neediness, childish attitude and insecurity.
  • Bastard Girlfriend:
    • Diane would resent being called one, even if she ticks all boxes to qualify in a more subtle, insidious way: rather than yelling or hitting, her upbringing and coping methods has made her have little patience for any kind of antics when simple solutions would suffice even more when it endangers savings, ignores obvious hints and comes from a lack of proper communication; in other words, losing her temper with Mr. Peanutbutter happens quite often, especially when she could use some emotional support from him only to be forced to be the sane one. She also bottles up her emotions well enough, it's a struggle to admit them even to herself. What comes out of it is a deep rooted self-centered attitude and single minded vision often flares up in Sudden Principled Stands when she's decided to toss general agreeability away and impulsively throw friends and loved ones under the bus in search for careerist goals and ideals.
    • Princess Carolyn's self-reliance means she's incapable of reconciling her go-get-them attitude and her relationship with Ralph Stilton, especially after a long string of entitled boyfriends whose neediness propelled her career. This causes a relationship imbalance where PC agrees and submits to Ralph's wishes and reasonable demands only to then push back violently and enforce her authority and actions upon him without any thought of how it may affect him.
    • Yolanda's aloofness, aim for a seemingly perfect boyfriend, no-nonsense attitude and unintentional insults toward those who don't fit her expectations comes from fear of ending alone and settling down just because there might be no good men in the limited field of her sexuality. It also alienates Todd since he realizes nobody should submit to that when there's nothing else to keep a relationship stable.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Horseman-Sugarman clan's intergenerational conflicts, deep traumas and casual dismissal of those in favor for temporary alternatives led not only to the dismantling of the Sugarman Sugar Cubes empire and the loss of their fortune, but to the continual spread of misery and heartbreak passing down from generation to generation. Some of the efforts of its members to unscrew it-like giving one of them up for adoption as a way to Give Her A Normal Life backfired in ways no one could have imagined, since it would involve denying the agency of other people in favor for what was best for them. BoJack acknowledges all this, attempting to come to terms with it at his mother's funeral in "Free Churro".
  • Broken Hero: Remaining decent and doing good deeds while keeping your issues will lead to trouble down the road.
    • Secretariat, being a renowned celebrity race horse in The '60s and The '70s and The Paragon to many, often went out of his way to present himself as a well-adjusted individual despite his troubled family past (Nice to the Waiter, willing to answer to his fans, approachable and friendly). Beneath the façade, however, he had several emotional problems not the least involving the constant pressure from his career, his unsolved problems with his father and his betrayal of his brother Jeffretariat who was sent in his place for ‘Nam during drafting time. This, combined with his Crowd Pleaser syndrome and keeping such problems to himself hollowed him to the point that it became who he was, rather than just part of him. His suicide only underscores that as much as he tried to run, life eventually caught up with him.
    • Sebastian St. Claire is a philanthropist who’s dedicated to restoring the ravaged country of Cordovia through riches, hard work and sheer will. His actions have contributed to the restoration of a semblance of normal life for the citizens. He’s also a narcissist with a lack of regard or conscience whose charity work is dedicated to building a cred around his status and dissassociation with the true needs of Cordovians lends an air of condescendence to the whole affair. Still, his work is genuinely working even if it’s not giving emotional support and his detachment helps him be more effective in dealing with the horror of bombings. The real reason behind most of his actions is not morality of any kind, but pure white guilt rooted in his rich lifestyle and the constant screams of dying children in his head every night which he seeks to drown.
    • BoJack came to Hollywood pre-broken, leaving behind a broken home and crushing, demoralizing influences behind in theory, if not practice. You’d not know it from looking at him those days: generally nice, bit cowardly, unwilling to drink, supportive of his friends. However, this was mostly because of a lack of trigger: it was a matter of time before the toxicness would bubble if he didn’t find a way to confront it or keep it in check. Once he got famous, his personality and hidden resentments transformed him in a self-serving misanthrope who would resort to anything for fame. Fog clears and fame has dissipated, age is catching up with him and he is no closer to finding the answer to his problems, on top of now having several regrets added to his baggage.
  • Butt-Monkey: "Shut up, Todd!", indeed. Todd's status as one of the Acceptable Targets of the show is usually Played for Laughs, but heaps and heaps of mockery (mostly from BoJack) have caused him to have a pretty low vision of himself, a desire to be part of something important and an Extreme Doormat, to boot.
    Todd: Look, I know I'm a screw-up and all my ideas are terrible, but with Becca, I was responsible for something. I had a purpose.
    Todd: I don't know why I always get into these messes. You know, sometimes I feel like my whole life is just a series of loosely-related wacky misadventures.
  • Byronic Hero: BoJack is self-centered, introspective, troubled, reflexive, impulsive with a Dark and Troubled Past, Troubled, but Cute status and Reclusive Artist shades. Instead of coming off as charming, mysterious and tragic, his demeanor gives the impression of him being arrogant, vain, pathetic and abrasive with no one being interested on digging deeper, and when they do, his issues prove to be too much to handle.
  • Crusading Widower: Eddie the dragonfly has spent years living his life way after the death of his wife Loretta. However, Eddie is clearly not living out his life to the limit, having become a recluse after Loretta's passing as a sort of penance for having, y'know, caused her accidental death. In a way, he's become way too emotionally repressed and suicidal to ever make any kind of recovery on his own and as such, he's determined to live the rest of his days with mementos of his wife, waiting for his death.
  • Determinator: Diane refuses to give up on a cause she feels is worthy or compromise her position in any way. This makes her appear rather arrogant and naive. Also, when her ideals clash with the real world, the real world almost always wins, because someone who's committed a heinous act will usually have lots of people that will go down with them, and Hollywoo is more than willing to get its hands dirty to protect itself.
  • Dirty Old Man:
    • BoJack has a tendency to sleep with women who are half his age, but in "Escape from LA", he comes really close to sleeping with Charlotte's seventeen-year-old daughter Penny. Despite 17 being the legal age of consent in New Mexico and Penny making the first move, Charlotte still threatens to kill BoJack if he ever comes near her again, and she most likely thinks that BoJack is a child molester. "That's Too Much, Man!" also reveals that the whole event traumatized Penny and she seems to know that it wasn't the right choice, and BoJack is shocked when he finds out where she goes to college.
    • Diane verbally deconstructs Mr. Peanutbutter in Season 5, calling him this. Diane argues that the reason Mr. Peanutbutter only goes after women half his age but never seems to be able to keep them around is he like the thrill of new people whom he considers "fun" and interesting. When that excitement inevitably fades, Mr. Peanutbutter isn't attracted to these young women anymore, which is why he's gone through so many divorces.
  • The Dutiful Son: Being the one who handles such responsibility, especially in terms of family dynamics, may lead to development good and bad from people around you and even yourself. Worse, the apparent weight imposed upon you could be a lot lighter if you didn't take it as seriously.
    • Captain Peanutbutter is an interesting case. He and his brother PB get along just fine (PB being comfortable in Hollywoo and Captain ditto in the Labrador Peninsula closer to their parents) but his sense of reliability and calmness make him a sort of grand figure of admiration for Mr. Peanutbutter: above needing help or feeling any sort of pain, he is the guy PB can always fall back when turmoil arises. Never mind his apparent forced smiles during PB and Diane's visit. Never mind Diane's concerns from some rather dark, brooding soliloquies from his part. Or the constant talks about death. Such is the trust he has in him that the younger brother fails to consider that something might trouble Captain. AT ALL. A twisted spleen, for example.
    • Diane Nguyen returns without question to Boston upon the news of her father's death, in spite of the abuse thrown her way by practically everyone in her family. She organizes and plans the funeral to which no one shows up...or cares to even provide the body. This becomes especially frustrating for her since nobody tries to lend her a hand and to top it off, they insult her, her mother especially who clearly favors her incompetent brothers over her, the responsible sibling. It's implied she endures the abuse expecting to receive some sort of recognition of any kind despite knowing better.
      Diane: The stupid thing is, even now I still just want them to be proud of me and think I did good. Is that really stupid?
      Bojack: Yep.
      Diane: No it isn't.
      Bojack: Yeah, it is! You want those guys to be proud of you?
    • BoJack was molded by his mother Beatrice to be a successful star to make up for trapping her in a loveless marriage. Oscillating between feelings of love and hate for her, BoJack would go to great lengths to impress her even after gaining independence and entering show business, inviting her to the first Horsin' Around taping regardless of his prism of experience. Even after that, BoJack has often searched for the kind of love missing in his life, which is the root of his crippling narcissism.
    • Princess Carolyn used to be one as well, and the experiences clearly affected her mindset. Having to cover for your mother while she'd drink her weight in alcohol and cooking for a rich family who constantly yelled and flaunted their riches can create a sort of savior complex. Not to say of the possible greed and envy it can create and send someone into a self-centered orbit.
  • Evil Counterpart/Good Counterpart/Shadow Archetype: Several characters like Vanessa Gekko, Rutabaga Rabitowitz, Vance Waggoner or Stefani Stilton are presented as sort of mirror reflexions to more sympathetic/complex/tortured characters like Princess Carolyn, Ralph Stilton, Secretariat, BoJack Horseman or Diane Nguyen. When the chips are down, however, they're really shown to not be that different (and not quite similar), with both sides having flaws, hypocrisies and dark sides; more often than not, this never fully condemns the "good" ones, redeem the "bad" ones or sink the "evil" ones. Mainly because it removes "good", "bad" and "evil" from the equation (with a few exceptions). It's a Morality Kitchen Sink, after all, at the service of Opinion Flip Flopping Tinseltown.
  • Evil Former Friend: BoJack's technically this towards Herb, since his word could have stopped the executives from firing Herb, yet he kept mum about it. Thing is, not only was BoJack actually reluctant about doing it, since Herb was his mentor and best friend, but the scandal was kind of Herb's fault for not being careful and Herb had tried to coerce BoJack into supporting him, which could have gone either way and gotten both of them fired. However, BoJack still made no effort to get in touch with Herb or cared about anything he did for 20 years, when Herb he was left out cold without the Only Friend that could have supported him. BoJack was also forced to make a Friend or Idol Decision by the executives and by Herb, as the latter explicitly asked for BoJack to threaten to walk if Herb was fired. Given that BoJack picked "Idol", he had every reason to think Herb wouldn't want to see him again.
  • Fun Personified: Mr. Peanutbutter loves to make the people around him feel good, and to be the life of the party. The trouble is that, rather than do things that people would like, Mr. Peanutbutter frequently does things that he'd assume they'd like. Also, it's never done out of a sense of altruism, but to keep the people in his life from leaving him. This often leads to him making Grand Romantic Gestures to his wife Diane after she's told him multiple times that she doesn't like them. This attitude is probably why his ex-wives divorced him. It causes such a strain in his marriage to Diane that, by the end of the fourth season, they're headed down the same road, finalizing a divorce in Season 5. And then, when Mr. Peanutbutter has a chance to come clean about all of his faults to his new girlfriend Pickles, he asks her to marry him instead, starting the cycle all over again.
  • Good Parents: You can't keep your children from making any mistakes, especially since they have to make their own decisions in order to grow as people. Worse, your flaws, curbed or hidden as they may be, can enable them in the worst ways possible.
    • Charlotte Moore and Kyle Carson are reasonable, sane and well-intentioned, clearly having intended to give support to their children should they need it. Shame each has their own individual flaws: Charlotte has trouble letting bygones be bygones and as such, can't resist the possibility of an old friend coming to visit, even if her real reasons for inviting him may be blurry even to herself or that she knows he might be a bad influence in her life. Kyle is practical and knows when he's needed, but he can also be too amiable and passive in certain decisions and as such, allows some things to slip by if it's not a troublesome situation. Both also are incapable of reaching out to their children with The Generation Gap being a major problem in mutual understanding. It's easy to see why Penny, their daughter, may have drifted toward a much more appealing and dangerous figure. Nor is the fact that both parents trust the guy in question for different reasons.
    • You can also be a good parent with an emotional disconnect toward accepting the harshest parts of life, none the least because your hometown has a strict ideology of happiness and nothing ever happening in such place. It doesn't help if you never stumbled across a guide of how to handle the dark clouds around you: better to ignore it and hope it goes away. Who knows? Maybe that's the lesson and you need to pass it down to your kids as a coping mechanism while convincing yourself that's the whole truth. At least that's what Pa and Ma Peanutbutter must have thought at the time. Not that they meant to stunted their pups' emotional maturity, but that was a given collateral.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Drinking in a world of excesses like Hollywoo or simply not taking such matter seriously enough to avoid bending the elbow too much might turn it into a game of Russian roulette if practiced enough times.
    • Sarah Lynn, besides being a drug addict and overall train wreck of a person, is known for drinking like a sailor. Any kind, all the booze she can drink, every excess is obligatory in any party. Rather than the normal portrayal of her as rough but fun-loving all the same, she comes off as an uncaring, irresponsible wreck who's a clear danger to herself and everyone around her. Besides the desire to engage in as much debauchery as she can do, Sarah Lynn is often doing it out of a sense of emptiness and deep unhappiness in her life, overloading herself with stimuli to numb the pain. This last part has worked a bit too flawlessly; as numb as she has become, she doesn't seem to realize when to stop. The only clue her body is able to give her when it's too much comes late, and she dies.
    • Diane, upon her return from Cordovia, proceeds to eat her weight in pizza, hang around in a dirty bathrobe and do nothing but drink, smoke marijuana and watch old episodes of Horsin' Around as a way of coping with the traumatic ordeal suffered in the ravaged country, and to avoid thinking too much about her abandonment of Mr. Peanutbutter.
    • Maddy Ginsberg tries to appear more like a grown-up by accepting vodka from BoJack and drink the majority of it, thinking it can do her no harm at all. The easy consumption causes her severe intoxication later in the night.
  • Hysterical Woman:
    • Honey Sugarman was a pretty normal mare, married and with children living through The '40s, at least until the day her one and only son Crackerjack left for war and was killed in action. From then onward , Honey was unable to stop thinking about him, blaming herself for everything, a deep feeling that was worsened by her husband not willing to empathize with her due to the values of the time and led her to neglect her only child left, Beatrice. Eventually, during the end of war celebration in Michigan, Honey explodes into a maniac-depressive fit from bottled emotions and causes a severe car crash in which Beatrice was driving. Unable to deal with the grief (and with neither society, husband or anyone willing to lend support or even recommend therapy which didn’t exist back then), Honey ends up getting a lobotomy with her last words to Beatrice being a promise to “never love anyone the way [she] loved Crackerjack”.
    • Beatrice Horseman, née Sugarman, Honey’s daughter and horrid mother of BoJack, grew up with the idea of repressing her “womanlyemotions after the death of her brother and her mother’s lobotomy, especially when her sexist, Stepford Smiler father became her sole guardian and instructed her to control herself. Deprived of love and in a society she deemed superficial in every sense, Beatrice searched for the answer to her problems: true love, one night stands or even a baby, all while keeping her guard up to avoid any hurt. Eventually, her outlet became bitterness, emotional manipulation and passive aggressiveness, all of which she employed well against those she thought responsible of her plight. She was careful to use them subtly in a pretend non-emotional way per her upbringing.
  • Idiot Hero:
    • Mr. Peanutbutter has relatively good intelligence (at least much more he’s given credit for), but lacks any sense of anything beyond what interests him with his excited nature and as such often makes rash decisions based on hunch and his often supernatural luck. These often lead to disaster or extreme money loss which often leaves everyone else scrambling through his destruction wake to fix it. The only reason why he’s able to not suffer most of the consequences his backing and actions cause is because Hollywoo itself won’t allow him to fall, bailing him out as long as he retains the charm and idealism that characterizes him as a means to use him.
    • Todd Chavez has the exact same disposition as Mr. Peanutbutter and causes just as much problems as he does, but rarely walks away completely unscathed, precisely because he’s such a small cog in the machine that Hollywood can flip flop in taking him into consideration. This nature of his doesn’t endear him to people as someone useful which makes him a multitask handyman which he’ll oblige as he’s just happy to be noticed. In turn, it clouds his better characteristics and intelligence while he stretches himself thin to avoid failing anyone as the world barely notices.
  • Iron Lady: Women are capable of raising to top dog positions but it’s usually by way of sweat, blood and tears. Even then, the biased gender meritocracy ensure they often have to work double as much and be far more ruthless and cold in their deals, with less tolerance to their mistakes. They’re just as important as their positions make them out to be, unless they find loopholes to get around those walls.
    • Princess Carolyn, Vanessa Gekko and Amanda Hannity are capable women on their own right and have ways of handling themselves, but each has issues: PC can’t find a way to separate private and professional life since her work is her life, making her very miserable and self-conceited; Vanessa has an implied good personal life, but she is backstabbing and unpleasant when in work mode and Amanda is the top editor at Manatee Fair, but can just as easily subjugate to the Powers That Be if it will affect her livehood, even if it’d be immoral to do so.
    • Also, the show makes the point that once these women become players in the system, they’re forced to become part of the same system and rules that oppressed and blocked their paths in the first place. You can’t play the game? So sorry, there’s the door. You want to do your job? Okay, here are our conditions. You want to do something different? Good, but maybe it would be better if you’d listen to what we want. Only women like Diane and Stefani manage to get some leverage and that’s because they work independent of the system.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As BoJack noted during his mother's funeral, sitcom characters tend be really mean to their friends and family but do big acts of kindness to show that they do care about the people around them. However, he points out that in real life a person needs to be consistently good in order to maintain a healthy relationship with their loved ones. A normally mean person doing occasional large acts of kindness isn't enough to offset the negativity they regularly spew out towards everyone around them or make up for bad deeds the mean one committed. After all, why should people choose to be around someone who does terrible things most the time and good things occasionally versus someone who doesn't do terrible things at all? BoJack uses his relationship with Todd as an example, as Bojack rescuing him from cultists wasn't enough to earn forgiveness for his previous actions nor was it enough to keep their relationship from falling apart a season later.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • BoJack didn't have an easy life growing up and it played a part in him becoming the person he is, but that doesn't earn him an Easily Forgiven card. He is still responsible for his own actions and BoJack's mistakes have damaged and alienated the very few friends he has.
    • BoJack's mother Beatrice Horseman treats BoJack like crap, talking him down and insulting him with every conversation she has with him, trying to intentionally crush his dreams as an emotionally abusive parent. Flashbacks in Season Four show that she was raised by an extremely sexist father who not only gave her mother a lobotomy when she "couldn't keep her womanly emotions in check," but was completely unsympathetic when he burned Beatrice's toys due to her Scarlet Fever, even obliquely threatening the crying Beatrice with a lobotomy of her own if she didn't reign it in. That being said, Beatrice is never portrayed as having been justified in her horrid treatment of BoJack and is still held accountable for her actions. Her son is also unable to forgive his mother for the way she treated him, even if he understands The Chain of Harm that led them to where they are now and is willing to provide some comfort for the sake of burying the hatchet.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Hollyhock shows up at Hollywoo to look for BoJack since she believes he's her father. Being seventeen and on the verge of becoming a woman, she has had an identity crisis about why she was given up for adoption. Unlike most examples of this trope, Hollyhock is already aware of BJ's sordid past and wouldn't mind him being a "confirmed" Glorified Sperm Donor as long as she finds her mother, the only presence lacking in her life. Of course, there's the tiny problem of whether or not she's truly related to him: people say they look alike and that's about it. No possible candidates, lots of one night stands (some of which have moved out of Hollywoo), no date or year and then there's the Horseman Tangled Family Tree. These turn out to be major obstacles for both to uncover that Hollyhock is BoJack's half-sibling.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: BoJack is incapable of maintaining a major relationship with a woman without attempting to have sex with them and/or start a romance with them. He is also incapable of committing to a long term relationship. This has resulted in countless heartbreaks, him losing the respect of many people around him, and women using him for their own ends and abandoning him once they no longer need him. BoJack's libido has also led him to sleep with or attempt to sleep with women who he should have kept a distance from, such as Penny and Emily, which ended up destroying the relationships he had with Charlotte (Penny's mother), and Todd (who was Emily's boyfriend at the time).
  • Obsolete Mentor: Going from useful to useless in a Hollywoo time-lapse requires a lifetime...or maybe just a couple of backstabbing/bad decisions.
    • Herb Kazazz did as much as he could to keep Horsin' Around running smoothly to get a renewal each cycle, something very difficult considering the ego clashing, resentful attitudes and fame-seeking hunger which slowly eroded any goodwill between the cast. However, being outed as a gay man during the Gay Panic in The '90s withered his control of the situation and bonds with the cast who'd never follow his advice to the letter ever again, leaving Herb in Hollywoo(d)'s outfringe for the rest of his life. In his later years, Herb became a Reclusive Artist and a Grumpy Old Man...who still participated in several charities, has a stylish house and kept in touch with as many people as he could. However, in terms of lifetime accomplishments, he's forced to live with H. A. as his Magnum Opus rather than any of substance like his posthumous novel, the latter composed of so much fluff and bad prose it only reenforces his status as a master of schlock with nothing else to offer. Not a failure yet too close to a washout, Herb spent the remainder of his life viewed as a has-been because of his limited talent (true) while his richer personality and wisdom went unnoticed by the vast majority.
    • Marv, BoJack's agent before Princess Carolyn, rode off BJ's success during the early 90s when the royalties were good, clients abounded and he had a bigger grasp on the hype machine. Come The Oughties and he mooches off PC's accomplishments to earn credibility all while putting her down as a way to keep her in check. Once she snaps her leash, Marv quits, admitting to himself he should have quit a long time ago instead of kicking a dead horse, since now he only has regrets and past memories to keep him company.
  • Old Maid: Princess Carolyn hits age forty during the show's events, and she's desperately lonely, feeling like no one will ever love her. As such, she constantly throws herself into her job with everything she's got, because she has nothing else she can be proud of. The fourth season reveals she's had a total of five miscarriages, and ends up breaking up with an otherwise great boyfriend when she finds out.
  • Plucky Office Girl: Being optimistic in a cynical business is a fool's errand.
    • Mia McKibben has every trait of an Aaron Sorkin female protagonist: competent, assertive, professional and willing to put a façade of good team worker. Except, because of her need to stay on top in a man's world and dislike for unprofessionality, she's also an A-grade Jerkass Competition Freak with no qualms about her insufferable ego.
    • Stefani Stilton's competence, bubbly attitude and almost diabetes-inducing tone has little to do with her real attitude which she often uses to her advantage to go for the hottest scoop. Not a cartoonish villain by any chance, just a cheerful individual whose job efficiency is made possible by a humble, pragmatic knowledge of her cynical soul.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Despite her generally introverted personality, Diane will push hard for worthy causes. Sadly, as the series moves forward, this is presented as not always being a good thing, as there's a difference between supporting a cause and being part of one. Season 2, in particular, presents two instances that tore apart the concept. First, when she's trying to bring attention to Hank Hippopolous' crimes, she gets nothing but vitriol for smearing a beloved figure, and is finally asked by Mr. Peanutbutter (who'd been reading the various death threats sent to her by mail) why she has to be the one fighting when she has no personal stake in the problem. The second instance is when she travels to war-torn Cordovia, partially to give people time to cool down over the Hank controversy, but mostly to "make a difference". However, she is completely overwhelmed by the aftermath of the refugee camp getting hit with a bomb, and she returns home in despair because she couldn't "walk the walk".
  • The Sociopath:
    • Joseph Sugarman's Lack of Empathy, narcissistic tendencies and complete obliviousness to his family's suffering and well-being lead him to lobotomize his wife in an attempt to keep her mood-swings in check, mercilessly taught his daughter Beatrice the way of "woman attitude" without empathizing with her. In short, besides being the main culprit of this Big, Screwed-Up Family, his actions led to the bankruptcy of Sugarman Sugar and a whole generation worth of abuse.
    • Hank Hippopopalous has such an uncanny ability to manipulate and pretend to be a respectable celebrity, that his fans think he can do no wrong even when the rape and abuse allegations start flowing in with several grisly details. Likewise, those who back him up have too much to lose if they turn against him, leaving the few who know the truth to simply be quiet and move on, least they want a tragedy to happen...
  • Standard '50s Father:
    • Joseph Sugarman, Bojack's maternal grandfather, has a mind for old fashioned values, sense of responsibility and fondness for white suits. Similar to Clay Puppington, this façade makes it much harder for society or himself to realize he's a sociopath with a very possessive definition of "love". Not that it would matter; however terrible his actions may be, society would brand them as "Tough Love" or "necessary" and he's not gonna start doing any soul searching anytime soon, lest someone confuse this as "womanly emotions".
    • Butterscotch is a prime example of what happens when a pseudo-liberal feels betrayed by his ideals and idols and makes a turnaround to "conservative" values out of spite. Contrasting Joseph, his coat, pipe and old-fashioned statements don't do a lot to hide how much of an asshole he is and he's not going to sugarcoat it either, giving harsh advice to BoJack about "life's struggles" and "being a REAL man'', regardless of how much he is an example of a weak, cowardly and jaded Former Teen Rebel.
    • Mort Creamerman is so effective in his dominance, so stubborn and aggressive in his ways and so devoid of any kind of encouragement and sentimentality for his family, his son Corbin has effectively turned into a meek, shy person whose brilliant ideas and charming personality is hindered by his insecurity and fear.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: BoJack's a jerk and an abrasive individual, and that's exactly how people see him. Thing is, he's not happy at what he does or how he behaves and is often resentful of the actions he has taken to reach the place he is in, often turning that hate onto others... Causing the very actions he himself hates. Also, unlike a simple Hand Wave of his behavior, his arc shows in detail the kind of emotional damage a person would have to endure to behave the way he does and how that still won't excuse any of his behavior to the people in his life, his friends especially.
  • Uptown Girl: Beatrice Sugarman was born and raised in the upper class, wealthy, but part of a dysfunctional and constricting family, namely a misogynistic father trying to marry her off with a good business partner. At her debutante party, Beatrice meets Butterscotch Horseman, an everyday aspiring writer from the lower class. The two hit it off instantly, and Beatrice doesn't have to worry about keeping up appearances with him. They have a romantic night which results in Beatrice's pregnancy and, knowing she can't marry a wealthy husband with a child born of wedlock, she goes to Butterscotch. The two of them reconcile and look forward to a bright, happy future with their child, with Butterscotch planning to finish his book so that they can all live a happy life. Instead, as soon as Bojack is born, everything falls apart. Taking care of their son leaves Beatrice and Butterscotch sleepless and grouchy. Their marriage falls apart day by day. They remain married, but they hate each other, and spend almost every single moment together antagonizing and belittling the other. The toxic household affects their son Bojack on many levels, which they know, but ignore. It culminates in Butterscotch getting their housemaid, Henrietta, pregnant with a baby that Beatrice all but begs her to give up for adoption just so she doesn't end up doing what she did.

Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback