Follow TV Tropes

Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope.
Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.


Designated Monkey

Go To

The Designated Monkey is an unintentional Butt-Monkey. They constantly find themselves in horrible situations; the author appears to intend this to be karmic punishment, but the audience (or a significant subgroup of it) thinks that it's out of proportion and will treat them as The Woobie. This can create Moral Dissonance or Values Dissonance in the work, or it could mean that the fandom is misaimed. The audience may even begin to wonder whether the author is deliberately misrepresenting this character to prevent us from sympathizing with them.


A variant of this can happen to an intentional Butt-Monkey or Cosmic Plaything if the rules of the universe are rewritten to punish them.

Common traits of such characters:

Legitimate characters being turned into Designated Monkeys may be a sign that the fans are Running the Asylum.

Compare Unpopular Popular Character, Creator's Pest, Informed Wrongness, Unintentionally Sympathetic, and Straw Loser. Contrast Creator's Pet. Has nothing to do with a Designated Skill Monkey in tabletop RPGs.



    open/close all folders 

  • The Trix Rabbit can't have some cereal. Now, try to find someone except the ad creators who doesn't think he deserves it. They conducted a survey asking America if he should be allowed to get any twice. Voters said yes both times.
    • Once, he just went out and bought some, with his own money. Then some kids came along and took it away, apparently just because they're mean.
    • Another commercial has the Rabbit win a box of it in a figure skating contest. Sure enough, the kids come by and take his Trix AND the trophy he won (even though he entered the contest and competed fair and square).
    • Double subverted in one commercial. He disguises himself as a human and buys some Trix, gets home, pours it out into a bowl, and goes to grab the milk... and finds out that the carton is empty. It was a Got Milk? commercial.
    • Mad Magazine inverted this in a strip where the Trix rabbit is lying in a hospital bed, deathly sick from eating Trix, while a group of kids tell him "See, we told you."
  • A number of mascots are designated monkeys in this regard (see also Cereal Vice Reward). Lucky the Leprechaun always has kids steal his Lucky Charms, Sonny always goes cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, and the Quik rabbit always loses his self-control when Nestle Quik is involved.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Lelouch from Code Geass; the show's writers said that they loved him, but his personality (highly intelligent but arrogant) led to him making lots of bad decisions, which came back to haunt him later on. The writers considered these repercussions to be "learning experiences" in their attempts to make him a better person. Of course, just how much of a Woobie he is depends on the individual viewer's opinion, but most will agree that it certainly looks like the universe has it out for him at times.
  • Yamcha was already something of a Butt-Monkey before in Dragon Ball, but DBZ took it up to practically Deus Angst Machina levels. He had the most humiliating losses and deaths, realized that he will never become strong, lost his girlfriend of two decades to one of the people responsible for his own death, never found anyone else, and was an old vagabond in his last appearance. It got so bad that in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Yamcha is kept away from the battle entirely. Almost makes you think Toriyama has something against him.
  • Takagi from Detective Conan. Though he does lose some of the uncertainty that makes him such a monkey as time goes on. For instance, in "The Man Who Called for an Ambulance" he ends up delivering a lecture to a more senior detective about jumping to conclusions that Conan silently applauds. However, it looks like he will always be a monkey where his relationship with Satou is concerned.
  • Yukinari from Girls Bravo is this to a nearly ridiculous degree, especially when Kirie is involved.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pikachu would fall into this category on random occasions, especially in the post-Johto series. Every time he and Ash arrive in a new region, the electric mouse would temporarily lose his strength (except the XY and Sun and Moon arcs), or be forced through a few brief Face–Heel Turns, the most notable one in the Orange Islands episode "Pikachu Revolts." Team Rocket, while always after valuable Pokemon of any kind, also have an over-fascination with capturing Pikachu in particular meaning there are multiple instances he is a singular Badass in Distress.
    • His trainer Ash has moments of this as well, particularly in the original Kanto series where he was recurrently antagonized, most others blaming his abuse on his shortcomings as a trainer (having only just started). He is often treated nicer in later seasons, though still sometimes plays Cosmic Plaything (even in the universally slapstick Sun and Moon series, a fair few episodes have Ash targeted for Amusing Injuries or the dilemma of the week while the other characters suffer relatively little).
    • They're usually the bad guys, though in some episodes Team Rocket get humiliated or beaten up just for appearing at the wrong place at the wrong time. Even in some episodes they are the bad guys it can be because an Asshole Victim trainer or Pokemon who decided to con or bully them first For the Lulz.
  • Gaelio Bauduin from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, he may have Glory Hound tendencies but he knows that Gjallarhorn is corrupt and wants to reform it from within. Likewise, he never committed a Moral Event Horizon and only does his duty as a soldier. Unfortunately, McGillis wants him dead because he wants to reform the organization in his own terms and that Gaelio's family is one of the Seven Stars, the founders of Gjallarhorn. It's even sadder that McGillis never value his friendship with Gaelio and Carta and that he's going to marry Gaelio's little sister who is clueless of her fiancee's true colors. The writers clearly intended to make Gaelio an Expy of Garma Zabi; however, the circumstances of his life made him a more tragic version of Garma.
  • Kousei from Your Lie in April can be seen as one. Most of the comedic moments of the manga and anime come from him suffering several Amusing Injuries (usually at hands of Kaori and Tsubaki). However, given that he is a Nice Guy and he has a very sad and traumatic backstory which involves getting beaten by his mother, most of these moments seem only to add more pain in his life and it's dubious whether they can be considered funny actions.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: If Yugi were to be this, it's often or not Played for Drama. The case would be similar for Jonouchi, who is also a Designated Dueling Monkey Played for Laughs.
  • Kawachi from Yakitate!! Japan. A supporting character who quickly goes through a Heel–Face Turn and had plenty of promise to become one of Kazuma's biggest rivals, he was instead slowly morphed into a complete joke who can't even get respect from his own family.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman falls into this occasionally in comics written by Geoff Johns. Johns claims to like Batman, but considering how many times he's humiliated/beaten up/put in the Designated Villain role in his comics, a lot of fans feel differently.
    • He made Green Lantern Hal Jordan punch Batman as a Callback to lampoon his beating up Guy Gardner; Guy was present and lampshaded it himself.
    • This is balanced by the fact that (1) Johns had Batman and Green Lantern reconcile in Green Lantern vol 4 #9, (2) Johns' post-Flashpoint Justice League run and Forever Evil contain a lot of heroism on Batman's part.
  • Frank Miller's treatment of Superman is up there with Johns's efforts on Batman. How many times does Big Blue have to come out looking like a moron, anyway? He treats them both as idiots in All-Star Batman And Robin, though. ASBAR, is, however, quite possibly a Stealth Parody (or so everyone hopes).
    • When Supes isn't written as an outright moron, he's a pathetic pawn of the government. Not to mention Miller's complete dismissal of Green Lantern as being a pathetic hero. One issue of ASBAR had Dick Grayson, age 12, steal Hal's ring and give him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that ends in crushing his windpipe. Many fans assume that this was Miller's Take That! for the aforementioned Geoff Johns example.
    • Miller seems to give Plastic Man a fair amount of respect from Batman himself in The Dark Knight Strikes Again, though. "He could kill us all... For him, it'd be easy..." This is surprising since other writers have used Plas as a Butt-Monkey for comedic purposes.
  • Dave Sim did this a lot as Cerebus the Aardvark went on. It tied in with his Creator Breakdown. Due to his rising misogyny, he hated pretty much all his female characters and generally wrote them out to replace them with Straw Feminist shrews. This, however, is nothing compared to the titular character. A good part of one trade paperback is devoted to Dave directly addressing said character and explaining to him what an asshole he is and how totally unfit he is for human company. Pretty much the entire comic from that point on (about 100 issues or so, depending on where you think this begins) details Cerebus' slow and gradual self-destruction.
  • The Civil War at Marvel was this to the anti-registration side, at least for the main focus issues. The writers wrote that side as having faults that a lot of readers didn't see.
  • With the exception of Superman, Garth Ennis has a serious mad-on for superheroes. Whenever they appear in his comic, they are depicted as either Jerk Jocks or complete imbeciles, and their usual role is to get knocked around and make the Badass Normals look good. It's frustrating for readers who've seen his work on Punisher MAX and Preacher, and know that he's a genuinely good writer when he's not writing what amounts to glorified Revenge Fic.
  • Stephanie Brown became this in the mid-2000s. She seemed to constantly be tossed around between being accepted by Batman, Oracle, the Birds of Prey, and the rest of the Bat Family, and being rejected by them, sometimes rather harshly, because of her perceived lack of skills. However, her incompetence was very much an Informed Flaw, as she was shown to merely be untrained, repeatedly demonstrating the same kind of potential all the previous Robins and Batgirls had, making Batman's refusal to train her come off as cold and dickish. This was best exemplified during her brief stint as Robin, where she proved herself rather resourceful and unexpectedly perfect for the job in spite of Batman's clear emotional abuse and being held to unreasonable standards the past Robins were never held to, but was fired after one mistake (where she chose to save Batman's life rather than stop the villain), which then led to her being killed during the next Bat Family Crossover in an event she was then blamed for (despite it largely being indirectly the fault of Batman himself both giving her too much access and too little information, and his emotional abuse pushing her into drastic action). After being brought Back from the Dead she was eventually given the role of Batgirl as compensation...until the New 52 happened, where she was given the same Ret-Gone treatment other Designated Monkeys got during this event (see Wally West and Cassandra Cain below). Eventually she came back after a few years of being considered 'toxic' for potentially taking attention away from Barbara Gordon, but she was reduced to being a sidekick and Butt-Monkey for another Creator's Pet and Replacement Scrappy Harper Row, all without any regular appearances. Eventually DC Rebirth put her on Batwoman's training squad in Detective Comics, only for her to suffer a massive character assassination and turned into a Designated Villain. Its also noted that her home life seems to be taken out of various PSA specials at times, given she's dealt with teen pregnancy, abuse, poverty, and was retconned to have once nearly been raped. Generally, it seemed that when they wanted to do a Very Special Episode, they'd just pile dirt on Steph's life and write about it. The fact she pushes past this and continues is also part of why her fanbase is so vocally protective of her.
  • Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown's best friend and predecessor, tends to get it just as bad as her. After first losing her best friend as noted above, when her book ended, she was out-of-nowhere given a poorly explained Face–Heel Turn that also came with completely inverting her personality and portrayal (going from quiet, dyslexic, and struggling to learn basic English into a Dragon Lady who gives villain speeches and has learnt Navajo code, and someone more convinced in Thou Shalt Not Kill than Batman to a cold-blooded murderer), which was then given a poorly-handled excuse that somehow tried to demonise her further after despite clearly being the victim. After this, she was forced to hop around from appearance-to-appearance with little consistency and even used as a prop to get beat up by then-Creator's Pet Kara Zor-El, and then stripped of her Batgirl identity so DC could compensate the Stephanie Brown fanbase (something that caused the formerly Friendly Fandom the two shared to turn into a one-sided Fandom Rivalry). After that, she too was given the Ret-Gone treatment during the New 52 reboot, and took even longer to be brought back, with her Character Development being reset and her backstory transformed in such a way it reflected how she was characterised during her Face–Heel Turn. She was then denied any of her past identities or costumes, and relegated to an Advertised Extra position in the above-mentioned Detective Comics, during which she had to see one of her best friends be seemingly killed and the other betray the team.
  • Despite being a Creator's Pet during the post-Flashpoint era, Barbara Gordon herself was this long beforehand, and became one again due to poor handling. After Alan Moore asked DC for permission to have her be sexually assaulted and paralysed by The Joker in order to hurt Batman and her father Jim in The Killing Joke, Moore was reportedly told to "cripple the bitch", as they were already planning on killing her off anyway. She was fortunately revived and reinvented as Oracle, during which she was reasonably well treated for a couple decades and considered an inspiring character despite the horrible nature of how she became Oracle, but after the post-Flashpoint New 52 reboot, this was undone in the worst way possible. She was un-crippled and became Batgirl again, with her previous abilities, achievements, importance, and Character Development being retconned out, but the sexual assault and paralysation was kept, with Barbara's ability to walk being Handwaved by experimental surgery, essentially robbing her of the few positives she got out of the ordeal. Her PTSD over the events of the Killing Joke were then forced into being the entire basis of her characterisation, not letting her forget or move on from it, and any happiness in her life being torn apart for the sake of drama. Eventually the Burnside relaunch happened that gave her a happier outlook and a more positive portrayal, while deaging her and re-characterising her as a personification of every millennial stereotype imaginable. Its clear DC are trying to actually prop her up and make her the important Batgirl, particularly given the treatment of others at her expense, but the way they handled it instead came off as turning her into a punching bag seemingly written to annoy fans.
  • Mary Jane Watson, as part of being a Creator's Pest, especially during the late 2000s/early 2010s. Since writers and editors feel she ages Peter and limits story-telling possibilities, instead of trying to find creative uses for her character, they decided magical divorce to get rid of her, then complete character assassination to try and turn readers against her. When it didn't work, they settled with making her a Shipper on Deck for Peter and Carlie Cooper, then when THAT just made fans hate Carlie, they tried this. Making her the butt of jokes to establish she's not as smart as Peter and Carlie, making her appear like she can't move on from Peter, making her need rescuing even though she's always been able to defend herself except in some adaptations of the mythos, generally tormenting her character out of some childish spite. Fans were not amused. Fortunately, Nick Spencer's Spider-Man led to mending this.
  • Cyclops is a similar case, as in recent years characters have became prone to calling him out on being a terrorist or war criminal thanks to his actions during events like Schism and Avengers vs. X-Men. While some fans sided with Captain America and Wolverine in their condemnation of him, an equal number of fans (that has since grown) have protested that their treatment is unfair and hypocritical, especially given he spent half of the latter being corrupted by the Phoenix Force and wasn't harming anyone until they pushed him, and that the whole mess started because of Wolverine telling Cap not to trust Cyclops. A few years prior, when Wolverine and Cyclops argued, fanboys would cheer Wolverine on; now, they comment that Cyclops should just shoot his head off and be done with it. It doesn't help that Cyclops usually just tries to defend himself when they attack him, and when a bigger and more important threat emerges, he'll be the one to suggest leaving the petty squabbling aside while they insist on giving snide remarks. This eventually culminated in Cyclops' ignominious death in Death of X.
  • Wally West just doesn't gets any love from Dan DiDio, at all. This seems to have started after a Dork Age where Wally was replaced as The Flash by his great-nephew Bart Allen (formerly Impulse/Kid Flash II), which due to bleeding sales and poor critical and fan reception led to them reinstating Wally. However Didio then approved plans to have Barry Allen return, and cancelled the Wally West Flash comic before the first issue had even been released (an event that drove Mark Waid, arguably the most influential Flash writer, to leave DC in disgust). Following this, Wally and his family were then Ret-Gone out of existence by the events of Flashpoint, with all his rogues and achievements as The Flash being given to his uncle Barry Allen, and a 'new' Wally West was eventually introduced as a completely In Name Only character with a highly unlikable personality. Eventually DC Rebirth led to him coming back, but as a Cosmic Plaything. Most of the world has forgotten him, former allies treat him like a stranger at best, as Barry's less-accomplished sidekick at worst. His wife Linda Park is seemingly immune to the Speed Force magic memory-reviving touch he temporarily got during The Return of Wally West arc, and after initially seemingly being open to rebuilding their lost relationship slowly, off-camera she decides she doesn't want anything to do with him. Two "crossover" arcs (the Flash War Bat Family Crossover and the Heroes in Crisis Crisis Crossover arc, the latter of which also transforms him into a Designated Villain) essentially revolved around the fact that, while his children still exist somewhere in the multiverse, anything he does to fix this will only bring him (and countless other people) more misery so he should just man up and forget about them. And he spends a period of time with a heart condition (despite having a super-powered healing factor) that would kill him if he tried to exert himself too much (such as running too fast to, say, help any of his teammates), seemingly as a cosmic punishment for trying to fix his life. Oh, yeah, and any importance he seems to have gotten as of recently appears to have gone the way of the Aborted Arc. Holy crap.
  • Mirage gets this treatment across IDW's Transformers books. Any time he plays a role in a story he suffers. He was accused of being the traitor during Transformers: All Hail Megatron and repeatedly beaten by Ironhide while the others stood by, but was innocent. He was injured Transformers: Robots in Disguise in Decepticon riots in the post-War era. When he joins the Lost Light in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, he starts a successful bar only for Swerve to sabotage it and force it to close. Then his hallucinations flare up and he's forced to return to Cybertron just in time to get drafted into the Combiner Wars. When he finally returns to the Lost Light, he gets betrayed and captured by Getaway, and ultimately sliced to pieces by Star Saber during a failed escape attempt. The only explanation for his treatment is that his first story features a version of Mirage betraying the Autobots to Decepticons, but it was never clarified if that happened in an alternate timeline or was just one his vivid hallucinations.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Cadance in My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic, full stop. The author hates her for being Happily Married so he makes her kill her own brother who's been turned partly mechanical and evil, suffer horrific nightmares and, in a later season, has her miscarry when a pillar falls on top of her; in fact, it was planned for a possessed Shining Armor to kick her. Speaking of Shining, he never gets treated nearly this horribly despite being her husband. There are also several happy couples, all of which involving the writer's own OC's, that don't get nearly as much of a bad time. To make things worse, due to Shining Armor being brainwashed, it resulted in all his sperm dying, so he is now sterile. But the real icing on the cake has to be what happens to Cadence. You remember that pillar which fell on her? Well, it damaged her reproductive organs so badly, now she is also sterile. The chapter this is revealed in makes you feel sorry for the pain suffering the author inflicts upon them.
    • Twilight Sparkle is another character that Mykan hates, this time for trying to preach the very idea of friendship that he loathes so much. Shortly after Equestria is introduced in the rewrite, she loses her wings and only gets them back offscreen, the MLP cast as a whole Took a Level in Dumbass, she's called out for not following the Grand Ruler's orders no matter what, and of course she is infamously murdered, which Starfleet and Celestia blame her for and the latter takes up her mantle as the Element of Magic. It even applies to her EQG self, who is shoehorned into the story pre-Friendship Games just so Lightning Dawn can be rude to her for absolutely no reason.
    • Both characters end up reprising this role in Friendship is Failure. Twilight repeatedly fails "friendship problems" for various reasons, while in Episode #4, Cadance ends up being the cause of the episode's Downer Ending, as a result of someone's unrequited crush on her. This reaches a head in Episode #10, in which Count Logan rips off Cadance's daughter Flurry Heart's head in front of her, kills her husband Shining Armor shortly afterward, and rips off her sister-in-law Twilight's horn, preventing Twilight from using magic.
  • In Super Smash Bros The Animated Series...poor, poor Pit. The other characters are constantly insulting, degrading, and outright attacking him for no reason whatsoever, aside from him being (supposedly) stupid. Instead of laughing at his suffering, as is likely intended, the reader just feels sorry for him.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Marcus Brutus in Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series of historical novels. He isn't a Butt-Monkey or The Chew Toy because he is a historical figure, but the writer goes out of her way to show her disdain for him. Brutus is portrayed in a deeply unsympathetic way as a coward, completely under the heel of his mother, a boring pseudointellectual, and both miserly and greedy when it comes to money. He is allowed a few moments of likability but is otherwise entirely contemptible, largely because of his role in killing Julius Caesar (who is essentially a Canon Sue in McCullough's novels).
  • Finding Judas states, "The original Judas Iscariot is often considered to have had unselfish intentions; perhaps he wanted to goad Jesus into all-out war with the Romans to liberate the Jews. And the apocryphal Gnostic Gospel of Judas actually claims that Jesus ordered him to do it." Yet traditionally, Judas is one of the most hated figures in Christendom. The Bible doesn't say what finally happened to any specific apostle (or ex-apostle) except Judas, and James the brother of John (Acts 12:2).
    • Really, Judas should be revered almost as much as Jesus is. Think about it — Jesus was sent to Earth for the entire purpose of being sacrificed to atone for everyone's sins. People hate Judas for betraying Jesus and causing him to be crucified, but really, by doing that, Judas allowed Jesus to achieve his goal in life and brought salvation for humanity along with it.
      • ”It would have been better that he had never been born.” (Matthew 26:24.) A good result does not excuse an evil action. If that was the case, then school murders would be good, as the kids could go to heaven. It is not, however, and the act of child murder would still be wrong, just as the betrayal of Christ was wrong.
  • In The Dresden Files novels, especially the early ones, Harry sometimes screws up, but he also tends to end up taking heat for other people's screw-ups, and blaming himself irrationally for things that were, by any reasonable standard, not his fault. On at least one occasion, he heavily blames himself for another hero's massive moment of stupidity, which she didn't apologize for, for about another five books. (To say nothing of the fact that in so doing, she was engaging in several major felonies herself. Did we mention that it was a cop who engaged in the stupidity?) Not that his girlfriend was any better about this: when someone tells you that vampires aren't really very nice, you should listen, Susan. No matter how cool an article it would make. He's been getting more realistic about what is and is not his fault, though.
    • Not, of course, that it stops him from being kicked around more and more over the course of the series. All the time. Poor Harry. Being Good Sucks.
    • Lampshaded to a ridiculous extent in the RPG, to the point where it's the explanation for a mechanic. You get fate points whenever roleplaying gets your character in trouble, which you need to use to help you along.
    Harry: I demand 23 retroactive fate points.
  • Princess Irulan in Dune Messiah is treated quite coldly by her husband, Paul Atreides, as he blames her for their sham marriage - even though he was the one who demanded their union in the first place as terms of her father's surrender. Also, he has a loving and supportive relationship with his concubine Chani, while Irulan has precisely no one to help and comfort her. His behavior is really unnecessarily harsh.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Deke Shaw in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Throughout the final three seasons, the character is The Friend Nobody Likes, and with the exception of Simmons and Mack, almost everyone treats him with indifference or even contempt. Fans think this is strange considering that even though the character started his journey in the series by betraying the heroes, he still had a lot of Character Development. Moments like the characters lamenting that Deke is the grandson of Fitz and Simmons or when in the series finale, Daisy promises to rescue Jemma and forgets that Deke was also kidnapped, becomes almost sadistic (and is even worse because Deke is in love with Daisy ). The series ends with Deke sacrificing himself, staying on the original timeline, becoming chief of SHIELD of that timeline, and being fondly remembered by the other characters ... but the fact that the series did not show a more detailed farewell between them and Deke did not even have appeared in the final 10 minutes dedicated to the individual farewell of each character, make fans think it was too little, and too late.
  • From her introduction, Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer qualifies. A seemingly cool character who steals Buffy's friends, tries to take over her role as Slayer, and sneaks her food. It turns out Faith's life sucks, which she covers up through sex and partying, in contrast to Buffy's better upbringing. She correctly feels she never fits in, then tries to kill Angel, thinking he was evil. This causes such a rift that Faith is very much on the outside. She then sleeps with Xander, the character who first described himself as a Butt-Monkey, and when Xander tries to help Faith after she accidentally kills someone, it becomes horrifying. During this time, Faith becomes evil; not just evil, but frightening. The writers have her commit one evil act after another to portray her as a vicious, sadistic character, foregoing their original plan to have Faith so distraught over what she'd done that she's Driven to Suicide. That particular storyline didn't get played out until a season later (and across the sister-show Angel) after she wakes up from a coma and discovers she has lost her (evil) father figure, the only person who ever treated her like she was worth something in and of herself.
  • Edie in Desperate Housewives. While she was a bit of a Jerkass and could frequently act in manipulative or unlikeable ways (such as faking suicide to get Carlos to stay with her at the end of Season 3), she is frequently on the receiving end of a lot of love from fans and seemingly disproportionate hatred in-canon. While all of the housewives sleep around - Renee and Tom had an affair, and she entered consensual relationships with Karl and Carlos when their relationships with Susan and Gaby had broken down (and Susan had been divorced for years), she is slut-shamed repeatedly and blamed exclusively. As she was a "slutty" character, she was presented as pathetic for wanting a more stable domestic life, and ultimately 'punished' over and over again: Mike chooses Susan over her (both times), she's left by everyone, thrown out of the Lane for sleeping with the husbands, and she then receives a cosmic punishment in the form of being in a sham marriage with Dave Williams...who is explicitly only marrying her so he can get revenge on Mike and Susan, the couple she's been at odds with for most of the series. And then she dies by getting electrocuted as she tries to flee from Dave and warn them.
  • The titular character of Everybody Loves Raymond became this trope more and more as the show went on. His wife, Debra, sometimes got this treatment at the hands of Marie, but at least in those cases, the show made it clear that the audience was supposed to side with Debra over Marie. When Ray became the Designated Monkey at Debra's hands, it was often for very shoddy reasons, yet it seemed like the show wanted the audience to root for Debra (at the very least, the studio audience seemed to be rooting for her, even when she made Ray a Butt-Monkey).
  • Samantha McCall and Lucky Spencer got this sort of treatment in General Hospital when the show decided to push Jason and Elizabeth as a supercouple. Even though Elizabeth and Jason conceived a child while both were with Lucky and Sam, Lucky and Sam were vilified to make Jason and Elizabeth as a couple look better. Sam got the worst treatment; not only was her con-artist Backstory retconned to make her out to be a total slut (she'd originally became a con-artist to support her stepbrother), but she was also made responsible for Jake's kidnapping. In addition, she hired armed thugs to terrorize Elizabeth and her young children as a wake-up call of Jason's lifestyle, and Jason and her shared several ugly moments which made it seem like they would not only never get back together, but they were never even going to be friends again. Even more bizarre is when Sam decided to hook up with Lucky while Lucky was still married to Elizabeth. Even though Elizabeth had already had Jake, and knew Jake was Jason's son and pined for Jason while married to Lucky, she was made out to be the victim during their divorce. As for Lucky, he was mostly portrayed as a narrow-minded simpleton who was incompetent at his police officer job. Any scene where he tried to visit his kids was treated like an intrusion on Elizabeth and Jason's relationship, complete with ominous music for ambiance.
    • To the show's credit though, they did properly redeem Sam with time. During dangerous situations Jason and her were often forced into each others company and that helped to repair the rift between the two of them. Then, when Jake was kidnapped by Russian mobsters Sam rushed headlong into battle to save the child herself. Most poignantly, when Sam herself is kidnapped and is delirious from exposure to the cold, she starts hallucinating about Jake's kidnapping and how things could've gone differently. When Jason finally rescues her, she tearfully apologizes and again begs for his forgiveness. Lucky, however, continued to remain much of a Butt-Monkey.
  • It seems to be widely accepted in the universe of House that Chase is the least intelligent member of the Season 1-3 team. He certainly cops the most flak about it, from pretty much everyone. Yet, despite the fact that he has on average about two lines of dialogue per differential, he has solved more cases individually than either Cameron or Foreman. The one time he does firmly try to tell House that he's in the wrong, poor Chase ends up getting punched in the face.
  • Because Kirby Buckets' title character is intended as an Audience Surrogate, everything on the show is presented as if he were literally God of the universe. As such, Kirby's Arch-Enemy older sister Dawn is constantly humiliated and tortured by everyone on the show regardless of whether or not she did anything to deserve it. Because Dawn is Jerkass, viewers are supposed to laugh at her misfortune and see it as Laser-Guided Karma. While this work with the target audience who can take out frustrations with their own annoying sister on Dawn (a la Meg Griffin), many other people don't find it funny.
  • In Scream Queens Chanel #5 starts out as a typical Butt-Monkey whose mistreatment is made more humorous by both her snotty behavior and the fact that most of her mistreatment comes from Alpha Bitch Chanel, but by the end of Season One and the entirety of Season Two, the sheer amount of misery her character is put under note , combined with her becoming a much nicer person, led to most fans expressing anger at her continuing and escalating suffering, to the point that some fans turned on Chanels One and Three who are arguably two of the most popular characters in the show.
  • J.D. from Scrubs became this in season six. The writers put him through an incredible amount of torment (losing his girlfriend, losing his unborn baby, becoming homeless, getting a DUI on a technicality, and getting a disease that causes him to pass out frequently, which is to say nothing of the innumerable times he's been tormented and abused by people around him) and made it very clear that they had no sympathy for his plight (the storyline ends with him learning to not complain so much to his jerkass friends). This reached a breaking point when the season ended with the girlfriend who left him revealing she lied about the miscarriage to escape their relationship and the show playing it entirely on her side, admonishing J.D. for being rightfully spiteful. Needless to say, this was when a lot of fans abandoned the series.
  • Colin Mochrie from Whose Line Is It Anyway? is an unusual example due to the fact he is absolutely capable of defending himself against both the writers, the comedians and Drew Carey. Several times when he's the butt of a joke, a percentage of the audience will cry out in favor of him and he'll often act innocent to get more sympathy.
  • Toby Flenderson, the put-upon HR administrator from The Office (US), is constantly abused by Michael Scott simply for existing, and has an overall miserable life, which can get hard to stomach after a while. Not helping is that unlike his Parks and Recreation expy Jerry Gergich (whose treatment in the later seasons drew similar complaints from fans), he has no bright spots in his life or Throw the Dog a Bone moments.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • For Better or for Worse's April has become the Author's Unfavorite, and John gets attempts at character assassinations in the comic's "Reruns" in an attempt to make Elly look better. Many fans don't quite agree with the author's assessment.
  • Luann - Tiffany the "popular" girl is constantly denigrated in-universe by basically everybody, all the time, even her alleged friends, and out-of-universe by author Greg Evans. While she's certainly shallow, immature, and a ditz, she doesn't really seem any worse than Designated Hero Luann, aside from being openly self-absorbed instead of being all passive-aggressive about it...

    Professional Wrestling 
  • After Hulk Hogan came to WCW, Ric Flair was often buried and humiliated. WCW seemed to go out of their way to make sure he looked horrible every time they held a show in his home town of Charlotte.
  • Stacy Keibler, arguably. Supposedly a fan favorite for most of her career and at one point acknowledged as the most popular Diva on the WWE roster...but she seemed to get put through hell more than any other non-heel Diva. She got only three pinfall victories in her entire career (and two of those were in tag matches while the third was in a singles match where she needed outside interference to win, so they barely even count). She lost every single Bra & Panties Match she ever competed in (and she competed in quite a few), just so the audience could see her in her underwear. She was physically assaulted by men - sometimes much larger men - on at least four occasions, the worst being when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin did it to her while they were both faces and it was treated as comedy. And she was never booked in a single pay-per-view one-on-one match as a face, despite being in the company for five years and a face for much of them.
    • Much of WWE's problems with booking Stacy stemmed from one thing: her only goal was to get noticed by Hollywood so she could launch her acting career. She had no interest in being a wrestler, but she was also so popular she was upstaging every guy she managed.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000 the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter are atoning for an ancient sin committed by half their brethren 10,000 years ago. In order to pursue the surviving perpetrators of this crime, they often abandon their main mission and leave other Imperial forces to be destroyed. This is considered highly suspicious behaviour and treated as a serious problem in the background material. However, almost every other Space Marine Chapter treats normal humans with total contempt too and displays signs of deviance and autonomy that are tolerated only because The Imperium aren't in a position to do anything about it. It's not clear what makes the Dark Angels' relatively minor disobedience so awful.
    • Could be Deliberate Values Dissonance in action. The "ancient sin committed by half their brethren" was to betray the Emperor and almost destroy the Legion (not yet separated into Chapters) in their own civil war while the Imperium as a whole was being torn apart by the Horus Heresy. Considering the other Legions that did so were declared heretics with orders to kill on sight, the Dark Angels justifiably fear that if the knowledge of so many of the Legion being traitors was to become widely known, they would suffer the same fate, and so their efforts to eliminate the remnants of those traitors results in erratic, unexplained behavior that makes them appear suspicious; other Space Marines Chapters follow their own agendas, but at least they're relatively open about what they're doing.
    • It is also important to note that Dark Angels and their successors are killing Inquisitors investigating their chapter without second thought and at least at one occasion they destroyed Black Templar vessel that came into contact with Fallen. Their Unforgiven backstory also indicates that Dark Angels Chapter Master effectively holds legion's worth of military power at his hands. note  And they have access to incredibly powerful plasma technology they are unwilling to share with anyone in the Imperium. Fan Dom rightfully calls them Closet Heretics.note 

  • Cliffjumper in the Transformers franchise. Hasbro kills him in the pilot of Transformers: Prime and then resurrects him just to kill him off again in Bumblebee. While Hasbro does regularly kill Autobots due to being a conglomerate of toy factories that build more toys to replace a discontinued one, Cliffjumper himself just dies before he even does anything.

    Video Games 

  • Yafien from Drowtales, who is a Nerd in a world where everyone else is a Proud Warrior Race Guy, does what any sane, unarmed person would do when three knife-wielding, demon-possessed people go after the girl you met three seconds ago: run away. He is also one of the few characters in his dystopian world who has never killed, raped, robbed, etc., and is viewed in-story as a treacherous coward due to Deliberate Values Dissonance.
    • Syphile had a terrible childhood where she was put down, abused, and beaten pretty much constantly, and is guilty of abusing Ariel and killing her kitten in a fit of rage. She was forcing Ariel to memorize a dictionary, and basically had no idea how to teach, and took out the problems on the child, who unsurprisingly grew to hate her. She does a Breaking Speech, pointing this out, and Ariel simply refuses to listen. Also, she gets to give one to her own mother. And promptly die, but it may have influenced said mother....
  • Boxbot from Gunnerkrigg Court is a Played for Laughs example, a small robot that doesn't do anything except be called terrible by other characters but he is terrible. Boxbot, is that you? Are you trying to exact pity from these good tropers? You're an embarrassment. I'm so disappointed in you.
  • There's plenty of them in Something*Positive, but Kharisma, in particular, represents this. A horribly shallow, self absorbed character who has received so damn much punishment (her face being set on fire, being sent to prison for a crime she [technically] didn't commit), it is getting harder and harder to feel schadenfreude at her. The author appears to have caught on, as after she got sent to prison she's been portrayed much more sympathetically.
    • Before his Character Development led to him becoming a better person, Mike was treated like crap by the main cast. The fact that he was the walking incarnation of Fan Dumb often paled in comparison to the Comedic Sociopathy of the main cast, but they were inevitably forgiven and he was shunned.

    Web Video 
  • Caillou and Dora the Explorer in the "Grounded" videos made in Go Animate, particularly those made by certain users. In most other "Grounded" videos, they often have their punishments coming, but other times, both their lives are just being made an utter hell by their family, friends, and even people who don't even know them the instant they step out of line, yet they're supposed to deserve it since they're baby show characters. Several parts of the (both ironic and non-ironic) fandom beg to differ.
    • Macusoper Busters. To get a good idea of how his groundings come off as more unfortunate then well deserved, just watch this video.
  • Eugene, the clone of Matthew Santoro, is a Butt-Monkey, being constantly abused by Matthew, all because he chooses to dress like a nerd and have nerdy interests.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Shay in Season 5. Where as Shay was a bitch before, she wasn't any more mean that anyone else in the cast. By Season 5, the world is out to get her, everyone berates her at the slightest opportunity, including her sister Cameron — sure, she was never particularly nice to her, but she wasn't as mean either —, she is not allowed to participate on the season's main event and when she tries to help, she is either ignored or badmouthed. She gets her revenge by the end of the season, when she puts laxatives on everyone's drinks and forces them to go on a diarrhea rampage while she laughs.
  • The Nostalgia Critic. He is a git and does deserve what he gets most of the time, but he's an epic Jerkass Woobie and fans have said that it would be kinda nice if he actually won for a change.
    • Which he did, right before he disappeared from his home reality for good.
    • When the series returned this was addressed by having him consciously reject all of his character development, dumping his woobie tendencies, and becoming a much nastier character. Giving him a regular cast to be mean to and contrast with went a long way.
  • Player from Among Us Logic, who continuously fails to win a game of Among Us which gradually takes a toll on him, and the narrative generally acts as if he deserves this, in spite of the fact he's a Nice Guy whose only real crime is being a bit dim and the Only Sane Man.

    Western Animation 
  • Tommy Pickles from All Grown Up! becomes this in his preteen years, whenever his friends make him the scapegoat of their fury, whenever they're in a tight situation. This is done episodes like "Truth or Consequences", "Dude, Where's My Horse?", "All Broke Up", and "Brothers Grimm".
    • In "All Broke Up", Tommy especially gets the bitter end of this where not only are his friends mad at him for lying to them, but when both Rachel (his girlfriend who had just moved away) and Anita (a girl who Tommy met a few days ago) shows at the same time, both of them reject Tommy, publicly humiliating him in front of everyone and breaking his heart.
    • It probably runs in the Pickles family, because Angelica would also occasionally get punished even when she did nothing to deserve it. In "Chuckie's in Love" she writes an article exposing the school cook's disgusting food and has him instead make normal food, but when the cook screws up by attempting to cook the normal food blindfolded and gives all the kids food poisoning, everyone acts like it was Angelica's fault.
  • Due to the (hilariously) warped moral perspective on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Master Shake is both a Designated Monkey and a Karma Houdini. When Shake is actively being a jerk and hurting people, he tends to get away with it. But his biggest Humiliation Congas come from his well-intentioned (for him, anyway) stupidity and/or him being an unrelated victim. This is especially demonstrated in the last season where Shake is largely Out of Focus but will still be brutally hurt before the episode ends.
  • Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender is always this. He is a klutz and usually pretty unable to determine even the most obvious details. It seems like he can't go a single episode without hurting himself. But in his favor, during the course of the show he did repeatedly take some levels in badass.
  • Donald Duck. While he can absolutely be a Jerkass who sometimes deserves his bad luck, there are a lot of instances where he isn't the instigator of the situation. Of course, this is all Played for Laughs.
  • The Urpneys of The Dreamstone are perpetual Villain Ball Magnets for the heroes, being treated as scum and falling victim to relentless violent punishments for trying to give the Noops scary dreams, disregarding the fact they are dragged kicking and screaming into each scheme with threat of torture or death by Zordrak if they don't.
  • Family Guy:
  • Henry of KaBlam!! fits this trope to a T. He's often getting hurt for no apparent reason, though only two people in the show seem to care about him (his over-doting mom and his best friend/secret admirer June on some occasions).
  • Kaeloo: Stumpy always gets made fun of or bullied by his own best friends, he's constantly suffering from some form of bad luck or abuse, and fails at everything. Even when he is being punished for something he did, the punishments are way too cruel.
  • Similarly to Donald, Daffy Duck of Looney Tunes; for the most part, Daffy does deserve what he gets, because of his jealousy and his undiscriminating screwyness. It is still very much played for laughs, though, and in some cases, it definitely seems like he's being unjustly punished (as in Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a Half Century or My Little Duckeroo, where he was actually on the losing end against a villain).
  • Lincoln Loud from the The Loud House falls into this category at times, as he typically gets pushed around or just straight-up bullied by his 10 sisters, with these acts always being Played for Laughs and the sisters often tend to get away with it. While sometimes he does bring his misery upon himself, other times the universe seems to want to punish him for no other reason than the Rule of Funny.
  • Mr. Bump from The Mr. Men Show is pretty much this.
  • Some fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic feel Spike the Dragon falls into this. He mostly exists to be the Butt-Monkey abused for comic relief, but some feel the abuse often goes too far and makes him Unintentionally Sympathetic. Specific examples include…
  • Rigby in Regular Show who is kicked around by almost everyone, because he is small and tends to act like an immature twit, and has died like 4 times (he got better each time though).
  • In later episodes of South Park, Stan and Kyle are interchangeable for this role.
    • Regarding Stan, for example, in "Douche vs. Turd", he refuses to vote for a new mascot and ends up being hated by everyone and cast out of town on a horse with his jacket ripped to pieces and a bucket on his head.
    • In Kyle's case, he's usually one to Cartman compared to Butters' Butt-Monkey status. To name an example, in "Crippled Summer", Cartman decides to read his speech about how much he hates Jewish people, making Kyle object, but the doctor forces him to let Cartman finish.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has a couple of characters who started off as genuinely unsympathetic and mean, so their Butt-Monkey status was seen as deserved, but episodes in later seasons forgot to make them unsympathetic.
  • Fifi LaFume from Tiny Toon Adventures, who usually gets abused for no reason and is usually ignored by all of the other characters, especially in the movie.
  • Ezekiel from Total Drama World Tour. Apparently, being really determined to win qualifies him to devolve into Gollum.
    • Harold in Island and Action. While a lot of his injuries are Played for Laughs, a vast amount of it is directly the result of being bullied by Duncan, which made Harold standing up for himself and getting him back all the more satisfying.
    • Tyler in World Tour. Sure, his injuries are funny, but he tries so hard many fans couldn't help rooting for him and wanted his string of bad luck to spell a victory.
    • Scott in All-Stars to a degree. While his punishment appears to be a continuation of the Laser-Guided Karma from his tenure as the Big Bad of Revenge of the Island, many fans feel it's overblown and he has genuinely become a better person at this stage, yet he gets physically abused far worse than he did as a villain.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: