Take your typical setting involving teenagers—say, a High School—wait an establishing scene or two or three, and there she is. See that attractive blonde cheerleader looking down her nose (often literally) and sneering at the frumpy girl in glasses? That's her.
The Alpha Bitch is living, breathing evidence that Popular Is Evil. From stealing your crush to humiliating you in front of the whole school, there is no low she won’t stoop to in order to oppress her dorky classmates and assert herself as the queen. She will often win Homecoming Queen or Prom Queen in a landslide vote. Often times, she is the authority of the cheerleading squad and decides who's on and off the squad. After all, who needs a coach?
The villainess of a Teen Drama, the Alpha Bitch is the Distaff Counterpart to the Jerk Jock or Big Jerk on Campus, and usually his girlfriend;note what he does with his fists, she does with a sharp tongue and sharper manipulation. She is often surrounded by a fawning Girl Posse who suck up to her and act as her faithful minions. She's very likely to be a Narcissist, a Drama Queen, a fashionista, a Valley Girl, a Bratty Teenage Daughter, a Daddy's Girl, an Attention Whore, and/or a Proud Beauty. May also be (or be close to) one of the cheerleaders.
She's also usually the scion of a wealthy and influential family, the star of the school or head sister of the influential college sorority house, thus providing her a network of local celebrity, influence and wealth to exploit. She's also quite the seductress, and consequently, all the boys fight amongst themselves—sometimes literally—to be her oppressed boyfriend. And to top it off, she's also very good-looking. All this leaves her with the belief that she can do whatever she likes without consequences. Unfortunately, she's often right; the Powers That Be are not immune to her family's wealth, connections, and influence, and they can and will be corrupted or coerced into overlooking her bad behavior.
Her natural enemy is the Cool Loser heroine. Whenever their eternal, jealousy-fueled struggle over possessions, boyfriends, and status is sparked anew, quarter will neither be asked for nor given.
Her foil, however, is the Class Princess, who’s as beautiful and popular as she is, if not more so, except that she’s nice and sweet to everyone instead of bullying them. The AB will see the Princess as a threat to her throne, as everyone easily prefers the Princess to her, and try to damage the Princess’s reputation before she overthrows her.
Usually the Veronica in a Betty and Veronica situation, if she's even presented as a love interest at all. Frequently on the Snob end of Slobs Versus Snobs. It's a Costume Party, I Swear!, the Prank Date, and the Party Scheduling Gambit are just some of the many nasty tricks she plays. Often receives her comeuppance at the hands of a member of her own Girl Posse in a Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch moment, or when the Cool Loser fights back (sometimes with an Engineered Public Confession). Normally joined by a Beta Bitch who assists her in her various cruel deeds.
If given some Character Development, she will become a Defrosting Ice Queen and grow into a Spoiled Sweet, or a Lovable Alpha Bitch. This might come from a reveal that she's actually hiding the fact that she's very easily-embarrassed. This trope is probably so common because everyone who wasn't homeschooled knew someone like this... or was one. It self-perpetuates because girls who want to be popular will copy what works on TV. They might even become the mask.
Once she's all grown up, she'll probably start off as one of the Sinister Sorority Sisters, before turning into an Obnoxious Entitled Housewife, treating service workers and her neighbors (especially her fellow mothers, some of whom probably went to school with her) the same way she treated her classmates in high school.
Most examples fall into one of three types:
- Aggressive: Despite being a not-too-bright, outwardly rude, bullying, mean-spirited excuse for a human, she will somehow still be the most popular girl in school, making her a weird mix of Card-Carrying Villain and Villain with Good Publicity. She may be manipulative from time to time, but the way she acts, it's a wonder people fall for her tricks. Usually, she will be Hated by All, but even that won't be enough to stop her. Done poorly, she can break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, but done well she can be used to show how sadistic teenagers can be, out of a need for acceptance and attraction towards people they perceive as powerful. Unlikely to be a Fille Fatale, she's too outwardly mean for that. But who knows, if All Men Are Perverts, they might overlook her personality in favor of looks. Common in Kid Coms and shows with Black-and-White Morality because she's a rather unambiguous character. This does not mean she is necessarily a Flat Character. She may in fact be Sour Outside, Sad Inside. Compare The Bully and The Lad-ette. Examples: Chris Hargensen, Connie D’Amico, Libby Chessler
- Passive-Aggressive: A smarter, more adroit version of the first type, she is often adept at putting on a friendly facade, all the better for her to lull the unwary into letting their guard down. Though sometimes Book Dumb out of a lack of interest in academics, she is usually of about average or greater intelligence, because maintaining her status requires some level of cleverness. Her beta is usually a good-natured Dumb Blonde, Brainless Beauty, or Asian Airhead for contrast. Very often a Fille Fatale, or if she's older, a Femme Fatale. Often, even she is just as oblivious to her inner nature as everyone else is, and thinks of herself as much like the way she presents herself to others. A Heel Realization may cause her to change her ways. Or she might be knowingly and unrepentantly evil and just knows how to hide it from others. Also, while it’s not impossible for Passive-Aggressives to insult people, it's usually something minor in the story they do to hint at their true nature to the audience. They tend to find a lot more value in manipulating others for popularity than they do in just abusing people and being an all-around unlikable bully like Aggressives. Examples: Tricia Holmes, Miranda Kilgallen, Muffy Crosswire
- Mix of Both: Occasionally, Alpha Bitches may fluctuate between the two types above depending on the situation. One scene she will act like a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, attempting to lure people into being her "friend", and the next scene she'll drop the act and turn into an angry, bullying Jerkass. This sudden shift in behavior usually happens when dealing with someone who refuses to fall victim to her manipulation, such as the Cool Loser protagonist, or during a Villainous Breakdown. Other times she'll generally use passive-aggressiveness for manipulation and outward aggressiveness for dominance. Examples: Regina George, Heather, Trixie Tang, Abigail Williams
If she's not the cheerleader type with the fake smile, but the (usually) unglamorous girl who will fight to be the best in her class, she's the Academic Alpha Bitch. Though almost always a she, rare male Alpha Bitches (called Alpha Bastards) do exist, but they're just that — rare. They're distinct from the Jerk Jock in that they're mainly catty and manipulative, rather than physically threatening, although if a Jerk Jock is preppy enough, he can overlap with the Alpha Bastard. However, if the Alpha Bastard is a popular Jerkass who rules the school, regardless of his abilities or his school activities, they will become the Big Jerk on Campus.
The Alpha Bitch is the female version of Big Jerk on Campus, who does not necessarily have to be a Jerk Jock, just like she does not have to be a Cruel Cheerleader. Like the Alpha Bitch, this guy can be aggressive, passive-aggressive, or a mix of both, and can qualify regardless of his athletic ability, as long as he is good-looking, popular, and a huge Jerkass.
Not to be confused with the Prison Alpha Bitch, found exclusively in women's jail, whose methods of bullying are much more brutal and whose goal isn't social status but outright dominance. The reason this character type is hated more than other Jerkass characters may have to do with her privilege and looks, see also Jerk Sue. Contrast Unpopular Popular Character.
ALSO not to be confused with literal Alpha Bitches.
See the article on Wikipedia for the Real Life information of this trope.
Also, do not confuse it with Spoiled Brat, an exaggerated version of the trope, mostly associated with the under 12-aged juvenile delinquents, rather than with the Jerkasses. Also, if a girl becomes a Spoiled Brat, it's mostly meant to be a Bratty Half-Pint, with a somewhat deadpan note attitude.
And yes, alpha bitches do exist in real life. No further elaboration is necessary.
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