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Big Jerk on Campus

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He's large and in charge, and don't you forget it.
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In almost every high school movie, there's always that one guy who rises to the top of the Popularity Food Chain thanks to his good looks, charisma, and natural confidence. That guy who everyone worships like a prince, who always gets the girl, who has the entire school eating out of the palm of his hand.

If the less popular students are lucky, this one guy will be a Nice Guy who rules the school while being laid-back, friendly to everyone, and generally awesome.

If the losers are unlucky, they'll get this trope instead.

The Big Jerk On Campus is the most handsome and popular boy in school-as well as the meanest and most aggressive. Like the Alpha Bitch, he only cares about himself and his status, and is not above bullying anyone he considers to be below him on the school totem pole, or anyone who threatens his spot at the top.

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When it comes to bullying and intimidation methods, the Big Jerk can go two ways, or a mix of both. The traditional method is threatening his classmates into submission through physical violence and humiliation, like beatings, pantsing, and pranks that involve physical ability. Or, for sneakier tactics, he can take a page out of the Alpha Bitch's book and use his brains rather than his fists, using manipulation and emotional cruelty to keep his enemies in line.

A story with the Big Jerk can go different ways, depending on the gender of the protagonist. If the hero of the story is male, they will definitely be a Cool Loser who hates the Big Jerk (and perhaps secretly envies him). In the end, the hero will rise above the BJ's cruelty, knock him off his throne, and steal his girlfriend (that is, if the Jerk's girlfriend is a Nice Girl and not an Alpha Bitch).

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If the protagonist is female, the story can go in all sorts of different directions. The female hero can be a school dork who's desperate to be part of the popular crowd, the Cool Loser who thinks Celebrity Is Overrated, and thus so are the cool kids, or she can be the Class Princess or Lovable Alpha Bitch that is the Big Jerk's equal at the top of the food chain. She can even start out as a full-blown Alpha Bitch whose story is about redeeming herself and realizing that popularity isn't everything.

From there, the story can go three ways:

  1. The heroine will start out crushing on or even already dating the Big Jerk On Campus, his good looks, charm and popularity blinding her to his less-than-stellar personality. Sometime over the course of the story, something will happen that will shatter the rose-colored glasses, and she will finally realize that the Jerk does not deserve his popularity or her affections. They will break up, and, more often than not, the heroine will end up with the Cool Loser, who, while less popular, is infinitely more likable.
  2. The heroine will have the Big Jerk as her boyfriend, knowing what an asshole he is but staying with him because All Girls Want Bad Boys or because she sees him as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold or Troubled, but Cute, and that she can change him for the better. Whether or not she succeeds is Depending on the Writer.
  3. The heroine will hate the Big Jerk, thinking he is just as shallow and nasty on the inside as he appears on the outside. Then, over the course of the story, she will find out that he has Hidden Depths, or that he is Sour Outside, Sad Inside. Her Love Redeems him, and he becomes a genuine Nice Guy.

This trope is alarmingly similar to Jerk Jock, which is often what the Big Jerk on Campus is. But the thing that separates the Jerk Jock from Big Jerk on Campus is that being a Jerk Jock is not a requirement to be the Big Jerk. As long as a guy is hot, popular, and a total Jerkass, he can become the Big Jerk On Campus, regardless of his athletic ability.

The male counterpart to the Alpha Bitch, although he is much less likely to get redemption than her. The Evil Counterpart of Big Man on Campus. More often than not, he is a Future Loser whose Glory Days will end after his graduation.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Boys over Flowers is the Trope Codifier in terms of shoujo romance. The F4 may be the richest and most handsome boys in school, but most of them are downright assholes until Tsukushi comes into their lives. They could push anybody around because of their money, and Donmyouji in particular was little more than a violent thug. What's worse is that the F4 have even more power than your standard Mr. Popular, having at least one of them be related to a member of the school board, so that they could harass and demean any teacher they didn't like and have them leave by the threat of blackmail or by simply getting fed up with their crap.
  • My Hero Academia: Bakugou Katsuki is this at the very beginning of the story. As the kid with the most powerful Quirk in Aldera High School, he's allowed the awe of his fellow students to get to his head and he treats all of them like crap, especially the Quirkless Izuku Midoriya. The situation is downplayed once he arrives to U.A., however, because while he still is seen as one of the most promising students in terms of Quirk power, his Hair-Trigger Temper leads to him getting several harsh reality checks and being forced to undergo Character Development into a true-blue Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Harley from Ruby and Sapphire is one towards May and is her rival. He would go out of his way to humiliate May and make her miserable.

    Comic Books 
  • Anya's Ghost: Sean is a handsome and popular basketball star dating the Class Princess, who is the object of Anya’s affections. However, those affections quickly fade away when she finds out that Sean is a Jerkass who constantly cheats on Elizabeth, sometimes with other guys’ girlfriends, and takes advantage of his girlfriend’s insecurities to make her not just Turn the Other Cheek, but also to actively help him cheat.
  • Reggie Mantle from Archie Comics is often shown to be popular with the student body at Riverdale High, being handsome, talented and quite The Casanova. He's also a vicious prankster and Narcissist who's so vain and entitled, he makes Veronica Lodge look shy and humble.
  • Mini Monsters: Morty Vivente is one, but he does not appear until the fourth album. He's truly and extremely evil, manipulative and unstable. He, with his band, are dedicated to bullying Frank's gang (the protagonists) and make their lives miserable. Although he hates Frank the most and wants to destroy him, he desires his brains to eat them (as a zombie). This later gets subverted because he and his gang are much greater losers than their rivals. He's so nasty that he manipulated Victor into being at his side and hired a giant spider to get rid of his rivals. Fortunately, he failed.
  • Spider-Man has a ton of enemies, but one of his worst is the one he faces as Peter Parker — Eugene "Flash" Thompson, who relentlessly bullies Peter for being a nerd. Some adaptations make him more sympathetic and/or give him a Heel–Face Turn, but in most retellings, he's a jerk to his core.

    Fan Works 
Athens (to his allies): And don't try to revolt again! Your tribute money is going straight to the army that'll put you back down! Didn't you get the memo? "If anyone in the cities strikes silver coins and does not use the currency, weights and measures of the Athenians, but foreign currency, weights and measures? exact penal retribution". A court issue? No no no no, if we want to keep criminals in check, we should use the same court. Mine. You know that food you're eating? You owe it to the grain-mother, the Goddess Demeter? Did I mention she was Athenian too? You basically owe us for that food.
  • The first entry of the Tales of the Undiscovered Swords, a fan fic using characters from, Touken Ranbu, gives us Himetsuru Ichimonji who acts like a whiny and self-centered self-proclaimed princess for most of the story, to the point where all of the other swords but one are tired of him. That is, until he starts showing Hidden Depths and kicking some ass at the end.

    Films — Animated 
  • Beauty and the Beast: Gaston is this for the village he and Belle live in. He is conventionally handsome and popular with most of the villagers, especially the young women. He is a highly successful hunter, which is the equivalent to being the captain of a sports team for the story's setting. He treats those he believes to be beneath him with contempt and refuses to take "no" for an answer when he attempts to court Belle. He even has LeFou as a rare male Beta Bitch.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in 21 Jump Street where Jenko (who used to be this back in High School) tries to act like this when going undercover as a student only to find that this just makes him look like a massive asshole among millennial high schoolers it's the nerdy and comparatively nicer Schmidt that better ingrains himself with the popular kids. Even simply calling someone "gay" as an insult backfires poorly when the recipient turns out to actually be gay and beating him up off as a hate crime.
  • The Brady Bunch Movie: Doug Simpson, like his counterpart in the series, is handsome, popular and charming. However, not only is no better than his original self, he's actually worse, as he is mean to his girlfriend, who he dumps to ask Marcia out so he can try to sleep with her.
  • Trent from Friday the 13th (2009) is spoiled, haughty, arrogant, blonde, popular, and relentlessly prickish in the absolute best way. It's downright impossible to feel any sympathy when he falls victim to Jason's killing spree, and the viewer is far more likely to cheer Jason on instead.
  • In He's All That, a Gender Flipped remake of She's All That, Padgett starts out dating Jordan Van Draanan, who is a popular recording artist on social media. The events of the film kicks off after she catches him cheating on her with a backup dancer. Worse still, he shows no remorse, and even makes a move on Cameron's younger sister immediately after a failed attempt to get Padgett to take him back.
  • Minutemen: Derek is at the top of the high school fool chain and is a nasty piece of work.
  • The Princess Diaries: Josh is a downplayed version. Mia and her friend group are treated like uncool pariahs by Josh, his Alpha Bitch girlfriend Lana, and her Girl Posse who are unquestionably the most popular people in school. Mia has a crush on Josh despite this and part of her wants to be in with the cool kids. While Josh's interactions with the wider student body aren't shown and his defining traits are his stupidity and superficiality rather than his cruelty, once he learns that Mia is a princess (and after her makeover), he exploits her crush on him by inviting her to a public beach and forcing a kiss on her in front of paparazzi in order to get his 15 minutes of fame. His lack of remorse makes Mia realize he's not worth her feelings and she ends up with her Cool Loser friend Michael.
  • Work It has Isiah "Juilliard" Pembroke, captain of the dance team, who is pretty much a classic Drama Queen Alpha Bitch with a Y chromosome.

    Literature 
  • Girls with Razor Hearts: Jonah is the Big Jerk at Ridgeview Prep, the school that the protagonists infiltrate to learn more about the people funding Innovations Academy, the Boarding School of Horrors that they escaped in the prior book. He's the captain of the rugby team who puts on a Lovable Jock image and is regarded as the coolest guy in school, but also has a reputation as a rapist, which Mena learns is well-earned when he tries to force himself on her late in the book. Almost immediately, the main characters suspect that he must be the son of the sponsor they're searching for, figuring that the parents of such an asshole must also be the kinds of people who'd fund Innovations Academy. He's a Red Herring, though.
  • The Great Greene Heist: Keith Sinclair is a wealthy, preppy athlete who has access to lots of unreleased video games, but he treats people badly. This actually makes him pretty unpopular though.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin student who is Harry's Foil. He's blond, rich, snobbish, presumed evil, bought his way onto the Slytherin Quidditch team, and comes complete with two other boys (Crabbe and Goyle) flanking his sides at all times. He takes every opportunity to belittle, mock, and bully the main trio as well as any other student who he deems worthy of his ridicule. He also possesses Fantastic Racism against anyone with even a drop of Muggle blood in their veins.
    • Harry's own father, James, zig-zagged between this and Big Man on Campus. Many people who went to school with James remembering him as a cool, nice, popular guy. But others, like Snape, remember him as a bully.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Brady Bunch: Marcia's friends express admiration and envy when Doug Simpson asks her to the dance. However, after an accident disfigures her nose, he shallowly breaks their date. He asks her again when her nose heals, but she's wiser now and says no.
  • In Cold Case, this crosses over with Future Loser. Whenever there is a big jerk in flashbacks around the time of the murder, the present will show how far he has fallen far from his pedestal since then. A notable example is the Prom King from "Almost Paradise", who is now a Fat Bastard working a mediocre job and trying to live off his Glory Days.
  • In Euphoria, Nate Jacobs is a particularly dark example. In lieu of the usual beatings and taunts of the average BJOC, he uses cold-blooded blackmail and emotional abuse to control his victims, getting away with all of it because of his family's money and his own football prowess.
  • Liv and Maddie: Artie Smalls is unattractive and a nerd, but still fulfills this role by being The Rival to Joey who belittles and humiliates him like any Alpha Bitch would, has a large ego with Attention Whore tendencies, and also has a posse of "minions" who follow him everywhere he goes.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: One of the teachers, Mr. Monroe, admits to having been this in his younger days, stating that he "ruled the hallways with his biting wit and vicious sarcasm". Being the Nice Guy he is now, he deeply regrets this.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Ring of Honor has Matt Taven, who at the sight of Hanson reminisced about refusing to hang out with him during his childhood days out of a refusal to be associated with someone so much less pretty than himself, a practice he continued into adulthood with The Young Bucks and Bullet Club as a whole, adding that anyone who cheers them was a Melvin (as in they deserved to get one). He also demonstrated ditzy traits such as lecturing former sports correspondent Kevin Kelly on American Football on the assumption Kelly never played and then proceeding to demonstrate his own ignorance of the sport, including inquires about nonexistent teams of the UK and Mexico Young Lions go on excursion to. And of course he has a posse in The Kingdom, though not a girl posse, the true leader Maria Kanellis being a comparatively subtle puppeteer and figurehead Adam Cole caring too much about what people thought of him. But then the second incarnation of The Kingdom recreated in Taven's own image was more girl posse-like, just with Vinny Marseglia and TK O'Ryan instead of girls.
  • John Morrison, aka Johnny Mundo, aka Johnny Impact: The only thing he lacks is a posse, though given the amount of time he spends telling everyone else how much less attractive, healthy, wealthy, fashionable and enlightened they are than himself, the idea of him keeping a posse would probably stretch the Willing Suspension of Disbelief to its breaking point. He's such an alpha bitch that he once traveled through time to mock his past self, Johnny Nitro, for not being as awesome as he was. However, on the occasion Mundo is a baby face, he is less vocal about his presumed superiority.
  • Dos Caras Jr became one after being unmasked as Alberto Del Rio, a towel wearing Mexican aristocrat who looks down on other Mexicans who identify with their Amerindian roots on the basis that he can trace his blood back to the monarchs of Spain, on Gringos on the basis they have no soul, on anyone not as wealthy as himself or at least not appearing to be on the basis they are peasants who need to know their place, on anyone with darker skin than himself unless they can produce papers to prove they are not illegal immigrants and on Puerto Ricans on the basis they are inferior to Mexicans. The latter was ignored as El Patron Alberto in the World Wrestling League in favor of him having his own posse known as The Gentleman's Club, where among other things successfully turned the worldly Hiram Tua against [1] down to Earth Tag Team partner Sensacional Carlitos. He curiously tends to clash with Johnny Mundo.

    Theatre 
  • 13 has Brett Sampson, who goes from an irredeemable jerk trying to get some action from Kendra and pressuring Evan to ditch his friends to a sympathetic putt whipped by Lucy, then zooms right back into irredeemable territory when it turns out he was stringing Evan along to make him his minion and never really planned to be his friend.
  • Wicked: Fieyro seemed like this at the beginning, as he was handsome, popular, and completely shallow and superficial, caring only about partying with the equally beautiful and shallow Galinda. But he soon shows that he has Hidden Depths when he helps Cool Loser Elphaba rescue a lion cub from cruel experimentation, and ultimately gives up his popularity in Oz and accepts life as a fugitive to be with her.

    Video Games 
  • Bully: Derby Harrington, leader of the preppies, is rich, entitled, and condescending towards the player even after you defeat him and his clique.

    Western Animation 
  • Dash Baxter from Danny Phantom knows his Glory Days are limited to high school graduation, so he gets his kicks in while he can, tormenting Danny and his friends.
  • Galaxy High: Given Doyle's cocky attitude and oversized ego, it's safe to assume that he was this at his old high school on Earth before transferring to Galaxy High. Upon arriving there, though, he's quickly knocked down a few pegs as he finds himself at the bottom of the totem pole for once, while fellow transfer Aimee, who was a Cool Loser at their old school, becomes the Class Princess.
  • In Harley Quinn (2019), The Joker of all people is presented this way despite being an adult; he's considered the #1 criminal in Gotham, to the point where he has more clout in the Legion of Doom than its actual leader. Using this popularity to his advantage, he takes every chance he gets to belittle, upstage, sabotage, and/or humiliate Harley when she dumps him and tries to make a name for herself, and he shamelessly manipulates her and toys with her emotions just for his satisfaction like a typical school bully would do. Furthermore, the Joker treats his fellow villains — including A-listers like the Penguin, Bane, Scarecrow, and Two-Face — as if they're nothing more than his devoted entourage and personal goon squad, as he casually bosses them around, insults them to their faces, plays annoying pranks on them, and steals food right off their plates.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series : Adonis is the handsome Prince of Thrace, who lords his good looks, high status, and anything else he can think of over the "commoners." He's dating lovely cheerleader Helen and ranks over Hercules and his "loser" friends in the school hierarchy. Even Herc has a hard time standing him.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: A flashback shows that Porky Pig of all people was this in his high school years. He even bullied Daffy, which is truly ironic, given their relationship in the present.
    • Daffy thought he was this in high school, having a flashback of him as Jerk Jock surrounded by girls and throwing cake in Porky's face. By the end of the episode, he suddenly remembers the flashback as it really was, which was almost exactly the same except he and Porky were switched, and realizes he has been lying to himself for years.
  • Monster Buster Club: Resident Alpha Brat Mark is a male Rich Bitch who delights in insulting and generally being less than pleased with the four Kid Heroes, apparently for no reason. He may, in fact, be this show's answer to Sissi from Code Lyoko; as it has been pointed out, Monster Buster Club rather seems to take after it.
  • Neo Yokio: Arcangelo is a male example. He leads the "east side gentlemen" who look down on Kaz for being Nouveau Riche.
  • Squilliam Fancyson from SpongeBob SquarePants is rich, has a few friends, and uses the fact that he is rich and successful to constantly taunt Squidward. On the other hand, Squidward almost always comes on top in episodes featuring Squilliam.
  • Static Shock: In the episode "Jimmy", it's mentioned in passing at the beginning of the episode that the Barbaric Bully applying Bully Brutality to the titular character (who is already this close to losing it, and finally does at the episode's climax) won the school's "Best Personality" award. Virgil Hawkins snarks that the judge needs to make a recount.

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