Follow TV Tropes


Hidden Heart of Gold
aka: Jerkass Facade

Go To

Tristan: How can I ever thank you?
Captain Shakespeare: Don't mention it.
[Tristan laughs]
Captain Shakespeare: No, seriously, don't mention it. Reputation, you know — "a lifetime to build, seconds to destroy".

Bob is a total Jerkass. He's the type to knock a guy down and kick him when he tries to get up, the type who'll bed a girl then toss her aside. Just ask anyone. Bob's a guy you do not mess with. Come to think of it, just ask him. His "rep" is such that he's a slave to it. And for a guy like him, stuff like that is what makes others fear and (sometimes) respect him.


So why is a nice girl like Alice with him? Well, Alice knows of a different side, one where he's always nice to her when they're together; she's seen him do a few good deeds when he didn't know she was watching. Like reading to orphans, making donations to charity, or just plain helping others. Thing is, eventually Alice is going to confront him about his true self, call him out for his crime of... kindness.

He'll acknowledge it of course, reluctantly, only to threaten grievous bodily harm on Alice should she breathe a word. But the secret will be out. Even if Alice tells no one else, it will mark a milestone in the Character Development of both, and viewers will be better able to sympathize with him. Especially if he's a Sergeant Rock.

Compare Villains Out Shopping, Think Nothing of It, Peer-Pressured Bully. Contrast with Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk. See also Let Us Never Speak of This Again.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Vegeta from Dragon Ball is this or Jerk with a Heart of Gold. He's still quite ruthless, jerky, and cold, but as series progresses, he's grown to love his wife Bulma and son Trunks (both of them), gets more friendly with Z fighters, becomes able to defeat or at least subdue his pride, and is clearly in Vitriolic Best Buds relationship with Goku.
  • Pretty Sammy: Even though Konoha Tough was portrayed as a rude girl that tortures Misao and Samy with intentions of ruling the world, she actually helps Misao by hitting the monster of the week, shows proper care to the popular kid and eventually becomes nicer at the end of the series.
  • Don't know if it counts, but in an episode of Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Itoshiki reveals that he's actually doing good for society when people aren't looking.
    • Later segments taking place in his house show that he actually cares about his students; he keeps framed photos of them that they obviously gave to him (ie several of the girls posing in maid outfits). Also there's a photo of Kafuka disguised as a college student who occasionally cooks for him and asks him how his day went, but if he knew that he probably wouldn't keep that one.
      • Well, probably not...
  • Black Lagoon's resident Guns Akimbo Dark Action Girl, Revy, is waiting for Rock in a park in Japan...and ends up showing a bunch of kids who're nearby playing with pop-guns how it's done, including how to die realistically. When she finds that Rock's been watching, she blushes bright red and begins threatening him with death if he ever tells their friends in Roanapur.
  • Bleach:
    • At the beginning of the manga, it's revealed that Ichigo had been carefully cultivating this kind of image when Kon, using his body, tears that image to shreds by romancing the females in his class. Ichigo is not happy. Ichigo's cold and distant behavior toward Keigo, Mizuiro and Tatsuki before going to rescue Orihime is also an example; he doesn't want them getting involved in the world of the Shinigami and getting hurt as Chad and Orihime already have.
    • Uryuu Ishida is Not So Different from Ichigo and tries to cultivate the Aloof Ally persona. If someone needs his help, however, he doesn't hesitate to do his best. He's gone from helping rescue so-called enemies to friends to... sewing up a little girl's broken teddy. His facade ends up as shattered as Ichigo's.
    • Soifon deliberately acts hostile to her subordinates for them so that they can become stronger. This is especially true with her lieutenant, Omaeda, whom she motivates (through reverse psychology) to stay alive during the battle against Aizen's forces. Lampshaded when Renji reacts with shock to Soifon's open kindness only to be chastised by Rukia, who points out that Soifon's always been a kind person.
    • Uryuu so sincerely believes his father's jerkass attitude that he assumes Ryuuken is trying to kill him instead of restoring his powers as promised. Ryuuken seems to encourage Uryuu to think the absolute worst about him. However, Isshin greatly trusts Ryuuken as both a colleague and friend and Ryuuken is also gentle and protective towards Ichigo and Orihime behind Uryuu's back. Flashbacks reveal that Ryuuken is a very decent man Beneath the Mask but prefers to appear uncaring for reasons that have been only partially explained.
  • Aburame Shino from Naruto is tall, silent, ruthlessly intelligent and has the creep vibe going for him with his manipulation of chakra-eating insects. He also threatened Naruto to never tell anyone...that he has a sense of humor.
  • Kurogane from Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- starts out very much this way...verbally, he refuses to have anything to do with Syaoran's quest to save Sakura, but you never see him leave the group, either. He wanted to get home, and they had the only means to do so (albeit randomly). Yup. They were his only chance of getting home, and he had a quest to complete at the same time, so he was pretty much forced to stay with them. After he is returned to Japan he has no more reason to stay with the others, but he does so anyway, stating he can keep two promises. Never mind how caring he is towards his travelling companions, even the white manjuu (Mokona).
  • Evangeline of Mahou Sensei Negima! tries to keep up her reputation as a horribly evil mage, but everyone who actually knows her realizes that that's not really the case. Eva has to keep reminding them that she's really actually evil, because if she doesn't they keep forgetting.
  • Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist is a mild case. He pretends to be a ruthless careerist just so that people don't take him seriously and he can proceed with his plan of overthrowing the oppressive military.
    • Much more so is Olivier Mira Armstrong. She lives by the philosophy of "survival of the fittest" for everyone, but when her scout team is devoured by Pride and her superior prevents her from sending a search party to find them, her response is slash him with sword and shove him into wet cement, and send the search party anyway. When she sends the search party, she tells them that they only have 24 hours to find the missing scout team. If they don't return before the 24 hours is up, they'll be sealed in the tunnel. However, she gave the guard a broken watch, so the search party would not be entombed in the tunnel even if they went over the time limit. When the leader of the search party thanks her for this gesture, she tells him she has no idea what he is talking about. She makes her contempt for her younger brother Alex clear both physically and verbally, but was horrified when he got pummeled badly by Sloth.
    • Greed also qualifies. A massive egomaniac who operates on an It's All About Me lifestyle, everything he does is under pretensions of helping his goal to obtain everything in the world. He calls his subordinates 'possessions', and will only work with people if they're working for him. But this avarice of his extends to not wanting his 'possessions' taken away from him, which means he'll watch out for and protect his underlings, fiercely, and will stop at nothing to get back at anyone who dares harm them. He'll even dismiss people to keep them out of harm's way if they are injured or otherwise not up to the task of fighting. It takes right up until the final battle and some egging on for him to finally admit that his 'greed' was really only a desire for friends.
  • Seto Kaiba of Yu-Gi-Oh!. He may seem like a Jerkass at first, but then you find out what he's been through in his life, including losing his parents, defending his brother from bullies, and being adopted by a jerk who later worked him half to death. Plus, turns out he has a real soft spot for kids, and especially orphans, seeing as he is one himself. In fact, in a flashback, you see him and Mokuba making an amusement park out of sand, and little Seto says "Someday, this will be a real theme park! And all the orphans will get in for free!"
  • Homura Akemi of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is also a mild case. She behaves coldly, but if not for her selfless actions, the other girls probably would have died several times over. Actually, they did. The whole reason Mami died in the first place was that she didn't take the time to listen to Homura's warning. It's also revealed that her entire purpose is to protect Madoka from the fate of becoming a Magical Girl, having gone through multiple timelines and seen how much suffering she goes through because of this.
    • Ironically, this becomes a REALLY BAD THING in the movie: her desire and determination to protect her friends from having everything they did undone ends up going against their free will (yeah, blame Kyubey for this awkward situation), which breaks her spirit but not her willpower or love, causing her to become a God of Evil. Homura, now able to bend reality to her will with nobody able to judge her, defies Madoka's wishes... and saves the world, gives Madoka (and friends) her life back, and slows the flow of witch transformations to a CRAWL. All for Madoka. The reason she still "represents evil incarnate" is that she trapped the girls in their pathetic former lives to save them, leaving them unable to help anyone or prevent the eventual destruction of the universe. So now she's the queen of all jerks to her friends, not for torturing them but for BELITTLING them, but she still loves and cares for them.
  • Gintoki of Gintama occasionally does questionable things, but has always come to people's rescue, even if he has to put his own life on the line.
  • Dandy from Space Dandy' Is a huge jerk most of the time. He constantly hits on women, tries to grab their asses any time he comes across one he likes, won't hesitate to try to charm women for their money, and has no qualms about abandoning his crew if it means saving his own skin. However, in episode 5, he travels with an orphaned alien girl to register her for money and leaves her at the motel one night, insisting he's going to BooBies leading to an argument. What he really did was spend the night looking for her grandfather, the only relative she had. Later, when she's kidnapped by other alien hunters, he proves that NOTHING, not even being trapped in the body of a stuffed penguin will prevent him from saving someone he cares about.
  • Kagerou Daze: Takane Enomoto. She's alienated by her peers for her frightening expression and grumpy demeanour, and is hostile even to her only friend Haruka as a default. But, as their time together creating a game for the school festival proves, there's a dorky cutie in there somewhere.
  • Discussed with Annie Leonhart, from Attack on Titan. Though she is noted to be aloof and unfriendly, several people express the opinion that she is a much kinder person than she would like to admit. This seems to be an accurate assessment, as glimpses of genuine warmth are seen when she teaches Eren her unique fighting style. Armin even tells her that he thinks she's actually a kind person, something she outright denies. She later spares his life because of this, which comes back to haunt her. Her roommate, Hitch, describes her as being afraid to make friends and she is absolutely correct. Between her father raising her as a Tyke Bomb and her mission as The Mole, showing her kinder nature is the worst thing she could do. Word of God confirms that underneath her cold exterior, she's an "ordinary girl".
  • Kyouya Ootori from Ouran High School Host Club is cool, calculating and apparently only acts when it's within his interests. However, he's genuinely caring and considerate and simply maintains an indifferent facade. He's also incredibly gracious and forgiving towards his near-abusive father.
  • Coach Kashibawa from Touch is a bitter, bad-tempered, abusive man but he has one. Hard to unearth, but it's there.
  • In Goddess Creation System Mingluan's prank gift of Xiaxi to Mingyi in the 'mission trial run' results in her being executed while he hardly bats an eye, but when the scenario is reset he's shown protecting her from what he thinks are bullying servants showing that he does care. Sort of. Xiaxi herself is not particularly impressed given that she was beaten to death once because of him.
  • My Monster Secret:
    • Mikan, at least early on, constantly screws with other characters and threatens to expose their deepest secrets in the school newspaper. She also constantly tries to hide the fact that most of her "Evil Queen" persona is an act, and several other characters point out that she's not actually as evil as she makes herself out to be (for instance, most of what she ends up putting in the paper looks harmful, but the majority of content is so obviously fabricated that nobody actually believes any of it). Later on, Character Development kicks in, and she starts to become at least a little less insistent on how evil she is.
    • Akane spends most of her time wavering between being The Gadfly and a Troll, but she's the closest thing the story has to a Big Good, and she does genuinely have the best interests of her students at heart. She just prefers to bury any assistence under a heap of scorn because she finds it funny.
    • Karen thinks she's one of these, constantly reminding everyone around her that she's a devil who will exact a terrible price for her assistance and that they remain unaware that she's behind any actual kind acts. In reality, she's a thorough Minion with an F in Evil, and her Heart of Gold is nowhere near as hidden as she believes it is.
  • Erina Nakiri of Food Wars! starts out the story as a haughty and prideful Academic Alpha Bitch, the best chef of her generation and very aware of it. The early arcs hint that she does have a soft spot for people close to her, like her assistant/best friend Hisako, but her upbringing (in no small part thanks to her Abusive Dad) has left her with No Social Skills. She gradually opens up as she interacts with the protagonist Soma Yukihira, especially once she learns that he's the son of Joichiro Saiba, the only chef she admires and wants to emulate.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: Lois Lane fits this trope. Her heart of gold is not that hidden (she is fiercely loyal, after all). She does often attempt to hide her softer side because she's afraid of seeming vulnerable, but the truth is she's willing to go to the ends of the earth to fight for justice and protect the people she loves.
  • In one of Donald Duck comic Scrooge McDuck is being pestered for "not contributing to society", compared with another millionaire. In response, he starts some half-attempted projects to do good for society. Naturally, they fail. Miserably. It was so bad that Scrooge solemnly declares that he wouldn't dare to make another attempt like that ever again. Then it's revealed that the philanthropist millionaire got his funds from Scrooge himself. He did that because he wants to preserve his image as a "tough businessman" while helping society secretly.
  • Reggie Mantle from the Archie Comics. He's about as jerky as a character can get without being a full-on villain and wants everyone to know it, but deep down he does have a definite caring side. One issue has him helping Dilton get a date on the sole condition that nobody finds out it was Reggie who helped him, and another has the gang thinking he's sneaking out at night to pull pranks when really he's sneaking to an animal shelter to volunteer.
  • Him is one of The Powerpuff Girls most evil arch-enemies in that he likes to play with their minds in the nastiest ways. In the comic book story "Presents Of Mine" (DC issue #57), he coerces Buttercup to spend her allowance to buy herself a gift as she and her sisters are out to buy something for the Professor. But when Him sees the Gangreen Gang stealing from a charity bin, he helps the girls kick their asses.
    Him: Even I wouldn't stoop that low!!
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye:
    • Whirl. Whirl's jerkass-like behaviour is more aggressive and stupid compared to grim, foreboding and silent Cyclonus. He does have trouble dealing with others in positive ways but is still capable of compassion. Whirl volunteers to jump-start Rewind's spark, and when Rewind's conjunx endura Chromedome offers him anything for doing so, all Whirl asks is that Chromedome stop hugging him.
    • Cyclonus does not deal well with others but is compassionate on occasion. He scorns Tailgate's ritual offering of innermost energon and tosses the vial to the ground...then stops at the door and goes back to help Tailgate clean it up. It's probably why, once they stop trying to kill each other, they get along so well.
  • Saturn Girl of the Legion of Super-Heroes once infamously pulled this off in an effort to evoke a Heroic Sacrifice. While she's always been known as something of a hardass (to the point her nickname's "Iron-Ass Imra"), Saturn Girl took it to new levels when she got elected Legion leader. After rigging the election with her mental powers she made herself out to be a tyrant covertly copying the abilities of the Legionnaires and then suspended them for dumb reasons. It was all part of her plan to stop the invasion of an alien warlord, by turning herself into a one-woman Legion and sacrifice herself so no one else would die even if her teammates thought she was a giant bitch.

    Comic Strips 
  • Hägar the Horrible: In the march-27-2016 strip, tough Viking Hagar tells a cute little bird how much he loves the spring, with all the sunny skies, butterflies, and rainbows - then he quickly looks around, and threatens the readers if they tell anyone about that.

    Fan Works 
  • Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Although Germany yells at Italy at a constant basis and is strict towards him, Germany is also is kind and gentle towards him as well.
  • In the Splatoon fanfic Her Fractured Spirit, Pearl and Marina tease each other on camera but it's all just for show. In their private life, they're a happy couple in a Secret Relationship.
  • Everybodys Gotta Leave Sometime: Lucy Van Pelt's good side is real well-hidden but it exists, as proven when she points out to Charlie Brown that his baseball team would never pick another manager.
  • In In the Kingdom's Service, Cardin Winchester pretends to bully Velvet Scarletina as part of their cover as Vale Secret Service agents. In reality, the two are actually in love.
  • The Black Sheep Dog Series has Orion Black. He's an arrogant, narrow-minded aristocrat who looks down on those he thinks is beneath him, and blackmails his own son for not falling in line with the family traditions. Despite his harshness, however, Orion does care for his family and is willing to risk his own life to protect them, even if they are unaware of what he's doing.
    Dumbledore: "You and Regulus share a determination to protect the ones you love—in some cases whether they want it or not. And I need hardly add—you both have a strong desire to draw as little attention to yourselves as possible while doing so. I believe you both prefer the loved ones in question know little, if anything, about what you're up to."

    Films — Animated 
  • In Treasure Planet, Silver vigorously denies to the other pirates that he actually cares about Jim Hawkins (who he certainly does care about, and who he knows sees him as a father figure). Unfortunately, Jim overhears this.
  • The Chief Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine reveals at the end he had this all along:
    Chief: I never admitted this before, but my cousin is the Bluebird of Happiness!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Captain Shakespeare's case in the Stardust film, he has a fearsome reputation as a remorseless killer pirate that would be completely demolished if word of his Nice Guy Flamboyant Gay True Self were known. Hilariously, his crew knew all along.
  • Discussed in The Thin Red Line with regards to Sergeant Welsh, the local cynic whose gruffness and aloofness effectively mask the compassion he feels for his men.
    Witt: You care about me, don't you, sergeant? I always felt like you did. Why do you always make yourself out like a rock?
  • Star Wars: Han Solo spends the whole of A New Hope letting everyone know he's just in it for the money (even using the exact phrase "I'm in it for the money") — then comes roaring back at the critical moment to help Luke destroy the Death Star.
  • Accidental Hero. Dustin Hoffman's character is a divorced misanthropic cynical petty crook, constantly declaring that everyone is out for themselves and no-one else. When a plane crashes before his eyes, and it becomes clear that no-one is going to rescue a young child's father in time, he goes into the burning wreck and rescues each person he comes across in turn until he finds the father - then goes off hoping that no-one spotted him. At the end of the film, after his insisting on the Fake Ultimate Hero Garcia having the credit, he finds no-one willing to rescue someone from the bear-pit in the zoo - and stomps off to rescue them, complaining all the time. Garcia planned to confess in a suicide note; Hoffman risked his life in order to blackmail Garcia into tearing up the note, going back inside and taking the credit (which makes him "uncomfortable") in order to keep up all the "do-gooder" stuff, which Hoffman realizes is Garcia's natural role in life, in contrast with Hoffman's card-carrying Jerkass.
  • Tony Stark is pretty adamant that none of the title characters in The Avengers (2012) other than Bruce ever find out he actually gives a damn. A prime example: when he's alone with Coulson, Tony's seen assuring him that all Coulson has to do is say the word and pick a weekend, and Tony will personally fly Coulson to Portland to make up with his cellist ex-girlfriend and "keep love alive!" Much later in the film, after Coulson is killed, Steve cautiously asks Tony if he had a wife, to which Tony replies "He had a cellist -- I think" and then proceeds to snort derisively and fumblingly call Coulson an idiot for trying to take on Loki while turning away so Steve can't see the tears in his eyes.
  • Samuel Gerard from The Fugitive. He starts out indifferent to Kimble's plight, seeing him as simply another fugitive criminal, but over the course of the movie, discovers proof of his innocence, and towards the end, practically becomes the only one willing to defend him. In the end, their last lines were:
    Gerard: I don't... Don't tell anybody, okay? (chuckles)
  • In the film version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Cindy Lou is the first one to see this side of the Grinch when he saves her from being crushed by a sorting machine. When she tries to thank him, he angrily denies it, claiming he only pulled her out because she was "improperly packaged", and tries to scare her by "properly packaging" her with gift wrap before leaving. However, she isn't very convinced, as the narrator says:
    Sweet little Cindy didn't know what to do.
    In her head, bum-tumbled a conflict or two.
    "If the Grinch was so bad,
    "then why did he save me?
    Maybe. Just maybe.note 
  • Captain Klenzendorf of Jojo Rabbit is a Nazi officer during WWII. A laughably incompetent Jaded Washout of a Nazi who betrays some skepticism about the Nazi agenda, but still a Nazi. However, as the movie progresses, it's revealed that Klenzendorf is more than just skeptical about the Nazis. He deliberately misleads the Gestapo, at great risk to himself, to save the life of a Jewish hideaway. This revelation suggests that he isn't even incompetent; his actions were all Obfuscating Stupidity to undermine the Nazis.

  • Discworld:
    • This is mentioned as the anti-crime of "whitemail"— revealing a mobster's charity donations to his colleagues, for example, discrediting him as a hardened criminal.
    • In Men at Arms, new Night Watch recruit Angua finds a list of women's names and dollar amounts. She assumes they are prostitutes paid for by the heavy-drinking, bitter Captain Sam Vimes. She is coldly informed by another guard these are the widows and children of guards who have died in the line of duty — and Captain Vimes is giving over half of his pay to support them since there is no support network for them.
  • In Skulduggery Pleasant, Springheeled Jack saves Valkyrie from being murdered by Billy Ray Sanguine, then realises that he helped Skulduggery, and asks Valkyrie not to reveal it. This may also be due to the fact he doesn't want Skulduggery to know he's escaped from prison. Because you're pretty much screwed when you have Skulduggery Pleasant and/or Tanith Low on your heels, no matter how springy they are.
  • In For Love of Evil, of all people Satan is this. He always honors his promises and felt the most joy when he performed several truly selfless acts. The key is he is still Satan and has a job to do—bringing out the latent evil in souls and reforming dominantly evil souls. He himself, apart from his job, is a truly good man. But he needs to keep this deeply hidden for obvious reasons.
  • In The War Gods Own, Bahzell, a divinely ordained paladin, finally reconnects with his father, who has been known as a hard-hearted pragmatist. Then this happens:
    Bahzell: I did remember as how you'd always said a man looks after his own in this world, and lucky he is if he can do it. I'd not thought it through then, but it came to me that perhaps 'his own' was after taking in just a bit more people than I'd first supposed you meant."
    Bahnak: It was that, but it's not so very wise to be letting those as wish you ill realize that it does, now is it?
  • One of the books based on Get Smart had the revelation that KAOS' sinister "Doomsday Plan" was in fact the "Dooms Day Plan" — that is, a retirement party for longtime KAOS agent Arthur Dooms. KAOS was desperate to keep Max from revealing this. Fortunately, the Chief realized that if KAOS were outed as softies, CONTROL's budget would be cut.
  • The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride.
  • Fisk from the Knight and Rogue Series. After his last 'lesson' from his Evil Mentor he became a little bitter and untrusting of others, so he isn't openly kind, even if he has good intentions. He also tries to cultivate his criminal look in the first book, to the point where he won't even admit to liking to read.
  • Breeze from the Mistborn trilogy is like this, he acts like a cynical, lazy, pompous manipulator, but it's made clear when he gets viewpoint sections that a good deal of his manipulation is well-intentioned, though he prefers to downplay this.
  • In Jon Stewart's America (The Book), there is a spoof article in the section on negative campaign ads about Caligula, whose opponents launched a devastating smear campaign portraying him as a "pretty nice guy" by revealing that he helped little old ladies across the street and gave money to orphans. Caligula apparently went into "damage control mode" by publicly sodomizing a puppy.
  • Mr. Jenkins, the principal in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door. Meg spends her entire grade school career and a good chunk of Charles Wallace's butting heads with the strict, humorless and seemingly uncaring Mr. Jenkins, but during the book's adventure, Calvin shares with her an incident in which his family could not afford shoes for him, forcing him to go to school in a pair of too-small women's shoes that he had to cut the heels and toes off of in order to wear. Mr. Jenkins bought a brand new pair of shoes for him and clumsily scuffed them in a paper-thin effort to pretend that they were cast-offs.
  • Pride and Prejudice: Mr. Darcy reveals himself to be this when he steps in to ensure that Wickham marries Lydia, protecting the reputations of her sisters and keeping Wickham from continuing to debauch at the expense of other young girls. He demands that no one but Lizzie's aunt and uncle know about his involvement in the matter, and goes so far as to insist that her uncle take all the credit. This ends up being a plot point, as Elizabeth was at first turned off by his Jerkass tendencies, and starts to fall in love with him after she discovers what a good man he actually is.
  • Daylen Shadow of the Conqueror attempts to avoid any association with his heroic deeds, and when caught on them, insists that they're just common decency and don't merit any attention, largely because of his guilt. Because he's Reformed, but Not Tamed, most people are put off enough by his personality that they don't see any deeper. Sain and Ahrek even discuss this trope in regards to him, at one point.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Principal Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks. "Old Marblehead" may be a pompous, dictatorial, underhanded dictator of a principal, but from time to time he shows his good side:
    • In "The Hobby Show" he helps fix broken toys to give to needy children.
    • He's a member of the "Citizen's League."
    • He helps throw a Christmas Party when he believes Mrs. Davis' sister Angela is dying in "A Dry Scalp is Better Then None."
    • He helps Miss Brooks and co. find a missing postman in "Postage Due."
    • Offers to adopt orphans in "The Twin Orphans" and "The Miserable Caballero."
    • He helps Miss Brooks and Mrs. Davis out of problematic situations in "Four Fiances" and "Marriage Madness," among others.
  • Charles Winchester from M*A*S*H.
    • In one episode everyone thinks he is being a jerk for refusing to share a giant box of chocolates he got from home. Turns out he's giving the box to a local orphanage but doesn't want anyone to know because it is his family's tradition to do anonymous acts of charity at Christmas.
    • Klinger finds out about this when Winchester berates the head of the orphanage for selling the candies instead of giving them to the children. The guy points out that the candy would have made them happy for an evening, but the money from the sale can feed them for a month. Winchester realizing his faux pas and humbly backing down ("It is I who should be sorry. It is sadly inappropriate to give dessert to a child who's had no meal.") is part of The Reveal here - Winchester isn't known as one to back down or apologize - and Klinger later reveals his knowledge to Winchester by bringing him the leftovers from the Christmas party and saying it was an anonymous donation.
    • In fact, Winchester's best moments tended to come when he was separated from the rest of the camp in a plot of his own. For instance, in "Morale Victory", while Hawkeye and BJ were trying to sort out a party, he was helping the pianist who had lost the use of his hand. And again in "Run For The Money", while they were helping Father Mulcahy with the race, he was helping a bullied soldier who stuttered.
      • An earlier episode of the show had Hawkeye and Trapper helping Margaret who got crazy drunk after breaking up with Frank (albeit temporarily). After sobering up, Margaret expresses herself in the O.R.:
    Margaret: Doctor...uh, doctors..I just want to thank you for what you did for me.
    Hawkeye: Don't mention it.
    Trapper: To anyone. we've got reputations to uphold.
  • Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother:
    • He once flew from New York to San Francisco in order to convince Lily to return to her ex, Marshall — but then forced her not to tell their other friends. However, his heart of gold only applies to his friends and family. For other people, he's a complete and utter Jerkass, especially with regards to his treatment of women.
    • He also ran halfway across the city when he heard Ted had been in a car crash and was in the hospital, and then tried to pass it off as having just been randomly wandering around the area (no one believes him for a second).
  • Brian Kinney from Queer as Folk always helps his friends without them knowing.
  • Scrubs: Dr. Percival Ulysses Cox:
    Oh, and Barbie? Let's say word were to leak out that Dr. Cox was doling out the feel goods... I'll make you pay. You have no idea. Huge.
  • Glee: Sue Sylvester has one, though she doesn't use it any more than she needs to, and will often Hand Wave it as a selfish act. Although her sister, and later Becky are out and out Morality Pets. She also takes a zero-tolerance stance on homophobic bullying. And as of "Choke," domestic violence.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Taiga Hanaya. He can be a nice jerk to his Morality Pet, Nico Saiba, but outside he perpetuates a reputation of uncaring and unrepentant one to drive people away. He slowly stopped to care about trying to maintain it around her as she never bought it in the first place. The fact that she loves to spoil his efforts doesn't help matters.
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Geiz Myokoin puts some real effort into his image as pragmatic soldier out fix the future, but it often comes across as either black comedy or just plain cute try in the way watching a child trying to be buff and adult is. For the record, Geiz is not a child anymore but only gets to grow up (somewhat) through the story anyway.
    • Threating to kill his great adversary with a baguette or flinging a butter knife at him when asked to pass it really doesn't work.
  • Leave It to Beaver: Every time Eddie Haskell does something nice he insists that no one tells anyone; he's got a reputation to maintain.
  • Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks. At first sight, she seems to be a spoiled troublemaker who aspires to be a femme fatale (often successfully), but with time it is revealed that she's actually a lonely innocent with good intentions. She also seems to be the only virgin in the whole Twin Peaks town.
    The director Todd Holland on Audrey's character: "She's one of my favorite characters because you thought she was such a big slut and she's probably the most moralistic person in Twin Peaks and that's all tremendous fun. The ones like her father feign morality and are incredibly treacherous, but they carry on a good business front."
  • Red Dwarf: Arnold Rimmer, despite being a truly repugnant individual whose arrogance and selfishness are only matched by his neuroses and cowardice, has the odd moment of sheer compassion and bravery. His alternate universe counterpart shows what he would be like if he wasn't so pathetic.
  • Gene Hunt from Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes (2008) is known by his colleagues and enemies to be a ruthless and brutal interrogator who rarely gives anyone the light of day - but his colleagues also know that if a police officer is in danger, Gene Hunt will risk his life in order to save his comrades. For example: In the first episode of Ashes to Ashes (2008) when Shaz is kidnapped, everyone in the office is stuck on how to rescue her when Gene exits from his office and gives his Catch Phrase: "Fire up the Quattro" and storms away to the docks to catch the baddies in his own particular guns a-blazin' western way.
  • Tracy from 30 Rock is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander who actively cultivates a "Bad Boy" persona with his irresponsible partying antics... but, to his friends' shock and disappointment, he has never once cheated on his wife. When Tracy won an Oscar for his role in a gritty urban drama about poverty and abuse, he became a respected serious actor overnight. He was overwhelmed by the responsibility that came with his accolades, so, at Liz's suggestion, he started acting crazier and more offensive than ever so he could go back to his old life. It didn't go well... especially because during his rampage he jumped in a lake to save a drowning man and begged him not to tell anyone. The man did, and Tracy was all over the news as a humble hero.
  • Game of Thrones: Littlefinger describes himself as such:
    "Don't tell anyone (I helped you). I have a reputation to maintain".
  • Veronica in Better Off Ted does this regularly, often hiding her good intentions behind the company agenda.
  • House of Anubis:
    • Jerome Clarke. When you first meet him, he is shown as a manipulative, uncaring person who will gladly blackmail his other housemates and trick his best friend into humiliating himself. However, eventually it is discovered that he really does have a heart, shown when he gets closer to Mara Jaffray, his friend and future love interest. The longer the show goes on, the more his good side is shown, from struggling to help his formally missing father fix their past to protecting and aiding his fellow students when it is needed.
    • Victor also fits this trope. Despite being the villain, he is proven to really care about the students deep down, when he kicked Vera out for hurting the students and sacrificing his last tear of gold to save a dying Joy Mercer.
  • Ice Tray from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Aunt Vivian dislikes the youth for his thuggish demeanor and lack of intelligence, but Will ends up revealing that when they were children, Tray would beat up the bullies that used to hassle Will because of his love of reading.
  • Ambulance Chaser Arnold Ripner from Barney Miller is struck with sheer moral outrage when he meets a former client who has been turned into a vegetable via Lobotomy and threatens to sue the man responsible pro bono if he ever tries it on someone else. When Barney points out that such words could be considered "noble," Arnold threatens to sue him for slander.
  • In an episode of Primeval, James Lester saves the ARC's menagerie from getting euthanized. When Abby tells him she thinks he's quite nice under his cold exterior, he playfully threatens to sue her.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: "Gold" may be an exaggeration, but Dr. Forrester at least has a hidden heart. After Dr. Forrester apologizes to Joel & the Bots for making them watch Manos: The Hands of Fate, he tells them to keep it a secret or he'll kill whoever else finds out.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The World Wrestling League version of Los Rabiosos were supposed to be greedy thugs, in contrast to the politically active, self-sacrificing group La Rabia. The "problem" was, as the groups used to be one prior to WWL, that the Rabiosos members were just as socially active as their babyface counterparts and as time went on, more and more fans knew it. This made Los Rabiosos increasingly harder to boo, especially against anyone other than La Rabia.


    Video Games 
  • In Cave Story, when Balrog shows up in the Labyrinth, Curly catches him off-guard by asking for help in moving a large boulder. After a beat, his first impulse is to move over and start to help you. Then he remembers he came to kill you, and a boss fight ensues. After his defeat, he single-handedly moves the boulder for you, saying not to tell ANYONE about it. He even leaves you a missile upgrade!
  • Nick from Left 4 Dead 2 is infamous for his Jerkass comments, but when healing Ellis or Rochelle, he'll often say something along the lines of, "Don't tell the others... I'm only doing this for you."
    • He will also say it to Coach, but only very rarely.
    • Nick has a combination of both Jerkass lines and extremely sympathetic lines (you can hear them all in the audio listing). While some lines are callous, especially regarding Ellis or Rochelle's deaths, in others his rather simple lines are delivered with heart-felt grief or compassion (even for Ellis). Especially true for Coach's deaths, some of which sound like Nick is utterly crushed by the loss of the heart of the team.
  • Don Paolo does this in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Despite being Layton's self-determined nemesis, the Big Bad of the first game, and also causing trouble in the second game, he comes to the aid of the heroes, most notably by repairing Layton's car (and giving it awesome upgrades) so the professor can rescue his adopted daughter, who has been kidnapped. When Layton attempts to thank him, he snaps at him.
    Don't get emotional on me, Layton. I'm only doing this for Flora.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • Light side aligned player characters in the Imperial faction pretty much live by this.
    • When feeling particularly charitable, a Smuggler will sometimes ask the person they help to not say anything about it, for they have "a reputation to uphold."
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Warden can invoke this when speaking to Leliana if the player so chooses. In one of their conversations, Leliana will mention that the Warden has a very intimidating presence. If the Warden reacts well to one of her stories, she will remark that it's good to find out that the Warden is secretly a romantic, to which the Warden can reply, "But don't tell the others."
    • Sten is also guilty. If put in the travelling party with him, Leliana will remark that she caught him doing things like "dangling string for a kitten." Sten, of course, vigorously denies this, claiming he was helping it train.
    Leliana: Softie!
    • Even Morrigan can develop one if the player can get her approval high enough. When she first joins you she responds very negatively to altruistic acts if she's in the party, but as her approval gets higher she's much less likely to complain, and will actually begin expressing affection for you rather than just tagging along because her mother said so. Harden her, and she'll genuinely admit to seeing you as a friend, her voice actually breaks and she's on the verge of tears when she says it. If romanced, she'll even confess that she loves you. Of course, she remains as vicious to Alistair as ever and still leaves you at the end of the game (though the Witch Hunt DLC can end with a romanced male Warden and Morrigan staying together for good).
    • In Dragon Age II, Varric is a snarky scoundrel with a budding crossbow fetish whose companion base is in the local Bad-Guy Bar, who has no problem with handing out the occasional summary execution if someone really has it coming. He's also, deep down, one of the nicest people in your party, especially to Merrill - at one point he tells her to stop cutting through Lowtown alleys at night, because while nothing ever goes wrong when she does so, arranging for that nothing to continue happening is costing Varric a fortune.
  • Dr. Kauffman at the end of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories gently telling Cheryl that her father is dead and that she needs to go on with her life.
  • Tharja from Fire Emblem Awakening is the creepy dark mage who only seems to care about casting hexes and obsessing over the team's tactician. If you view some of her supports with other characters, however, she actually does a lot of things out of kindness, such as finding out where Nowi's parents are and trying to shield her from the truth that they're dead, or mind-controlling Virion into helping her comrades around the camp.
  • In Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, the Battleaxe Nurse Bertha will join your character if you choose "Spare Leon".
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Shadow is a violent, egotistical Jerkass whose actions border on out and out villainy on occasion, but he's always on the side of justice and he genuinely cares about others, even if it's very hard to see.
    • Rouge may be a thief and is obsessed with jewelry, but she's far from being one of the bad guys. When push comes to shove, she will help others and do the right thing in spite of her selfishness.
  • Flannery, the Lavaridge Town Gym Leader in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, is a sweet girl who tries to act tough and intimidating in emulation of her grandfather, the former Gym Leader. Emphasis on tries — Flannery is endearingly terrible at keeping up the facade, and drops it entirely after the player defeats her.
  • Red Dead Redemption II: Arthur Morgan is one. Towards most of the strangers, he will usually mock or scoff at them but ultimately agrees to help. In one case a black doctor has his wagon stolen by a bunch of racists; after hearing that the doctor was working for free to help people, Arthur tells him to wait and goes off to retrieve his wagon without promise of pay or reward, he simply does it out of the (small speck of) goodness in his heart.
  • Persona:
    • Shinjiro Aragaki from Persona 3 fosters the identity of an intimating loner, and often gets embarrassed when people discover his softer side.
    • Kanji Tatsumi from Persona 4 puts up the guise of a Delinquent to hide his softer side and enjoyment of things most people would consider "unmanly", such as making clothes and dolls. A major part of his Character Development is based around him learning to be comfortable with himself without relying on his facade.
    • Also from Persona 4, it's implied that Kinshiro Morooka's Jerkass tendencies toward his students is really him using Tough Love to push them to their limits, though he doesn't last long enough for the player to learn if this is the case.
    • Sojiro Sakura from Persona 5 puts on a tough front towards Joker early on, put it quickly becomes apparent that this is just a facade and he's actually very warm and friendly.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ban from Spirit Hunter: NG constantly bickers with the cast and pretends to be tolerant at best of Akira, but after Akira is arrested, Rosé reveals that he was secretly worried and offered up a prayer for Akira's safety.

  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has Paulo and Lucy; Paulo tries to keep up an outward appearance of being a Ladies' Man, but deep down he actually respects the women around him and is always happy to help them out for completely altruistic reasons. Likewise, Lucy has a prickly exterior but is a total sweetheart towards her pets.
  • In Dumbing of Age, Sarah generally presents herself as a "bitchy killjoy misanthrope", but she actually does care about her roommate Joyce.
  • The Nightmare Knight from Cucumber Quest might be an ancient evil that has tried to conquer Dreamside for thousands of years...but we do get to see a few glimpses into his softer side when push comes to shove.
    • The first is any time he interacts with Princess Parfait. He saves her from a couple of bullies, is willing to engage in conversation when she's alone, and secretly delivers letters to her boyfriend.
    • The second is from a Wham Shot in chapter two: his minions Noisemaster and Mutemaster are about to successfully blow up the city of Trebleopolis...until the blast is dissipated by a starry, purple barrier that is very heavily hinted and confirmed to be put up by the Nightmare Knight. He lets someone else take the credit for it, of course, because he still needs to be known as the bad guy.
  • My Deepest Secret: Downplayed with Hanamika. Most of her standoffishness is revealed to be due to her introverted personality rather than any true unfriendliness, and she's a perfectly decent person beneath it all.

    Web Original 
  • Both Sasha and Daichi have one in Greek Ninja. Also, Electra.
  • The Other Guy (not Rob) from That Guy with the Glasses. Brags about being the shadowy puppet-master of The Nostalgia Critic, but also shows concern for him when the Critic's not lucid enough to notice.
  • The Amazing Atheist: While it's admittedly very well hidden, he does seem to care about injustice and often rants about bad people.
  • In My Grandfather's World War II Journal, Jean is introduced as an Abusive Husband towards his sweet and frail wife, Elise, while also having an affair with a waitress named Fiona. It isn't until his dying moments that Jean reveals what kind of man he really is: A loving husband who made a Deal with the Devil to cure his wife's fatal illness in exchange for Jean binding himself to the demon. The demon returned 30 days after Elise's recovery in the form of Fiona and made Jean its Sex Slave while also ordering him to never show any affection toward his wife.

    Western Animation 
  • Duncan from Total Drama. When DJ loses his pet bunny, he lures a new one close by with food and pretends it must have just been hiding. His "girlfriend" catches him, but he denies it. He got called on it again in a later episode by Leshawna, (his girlfriend told her) when she denied his claim that he was completely heartless, and then Duncan admits he lost a pet once too and didn't want DJ to suffer like that.
    • The final episode of TDA showed that he would wake up in the middle of the night to tuck his teammates in while they were sleeping. All together now: awwww.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat, on very rare occasions, has proven that he does care for his friends. The final episode of the first season ended with him having a Pet the Dog moment with Quack Quack (alone, with nobody watching), and in the Season 3 premiere he holds hands with Kaeloo and puts an arm around Quack Quack's shoulder when it seems like the three of them will be erased from existence.
  • Rattrap of Beast Wars wears his callous contempt for everyone and determination to put himself first like a badge of honor. Too bad it's not really true.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Flanders recognizes Moe as the guy who reads to children at the hospital. The latter's response?
    Moe: [Grabbing Flanders] If this gets out, the next words you say will be muffled by your own butt.
    • And then a later scene shows Moe reading to the homeless as well.
      • And being reduced to tears by what he's reading (the end of Little Women).
  • Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender definitely has this during the first two seasons before his Heel–Face Turn, after which his Heart of Gold is no longer hidden.
  • In the Cow and Chicken episode "Karate Chick", the school bully who steals Chicken's lunch money reserves the weekend for charity work.
  • One of Family Guy's skits featured "Kenneth the Badass Mail Clerk With A Heart Of Gold", a Knife Nut who gives half his paycheck to "orphans with diseases".
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: A.F.L.O.A.T.", Card-Carrying Villain (or so he claims) Stickybeard rescues the team from a man-eating asparagus, and although he claims "this doesn't change anything!" in so many words, Numbuh Five sees right through it.
    Stickybeard: Say, lassie, would ya mind keepin' this business of me savin' ye secret from the other villains? They wouldn't invite me ta next year's barbecue if they found out...
  • Beetlejuice likes having people know that he's a belligerent, conniving prankster with the power to do almost anything he wants to them. The fact that he's got one of these is something he'd prefer to keep between himself and Lydia.
  • Roxy from Jem is usually presented as a hard-as-nails Jerkass however when she leaves The Misfits in one episode her nicer side appears. While she's still not a Nice Girl she's much happier and sweeter than when she is around Pizzazz.
  • Touched upon in a Thomas the Tank Engine episode "Diesel and the Ducklings". Diesel, who is known to be an obnoxious bully to the steam engines and boasts about diesels being superior over them, is shown to be sweet and gentle to ducklings. When Thomas spots him with the ducklings, Diesel tells him not to tell the other engines about his soft side, thinking they will laugh at him. Thomas promises, but with the condition that Diesel must be nice to the steam engines. Throughout the episode, Diesel finds it hard to be nice, especially when his friends Arry and Bert are around. When Thomas finds out that Diesel failed to live up to his promise, he decides to show Arry and Bert the ducklings Diesel was talking to, which nearly leads to him harming them. After Diesel had stopped him from running to them, Thomas praises him for his heroism, which he denies. That is until Arry and Bert begin showing affection towards the ducklings like Diesel has. The episode ends with Thomas stating that all three diesels are big softies at heart when it comes to ducklings.
  • Bender from Futurama.
    Bender: You all go without me. I'm gonna take one last look around. Y'know, for uh, steal.
    Fry: You're going back for the countess, aren't you?
    Bender: (He pulls Fry aside.) ...All right, I am. But I don't want the others to know! If I don't come back, just say I died robbing some old man!
    Fry: I'll tell 'em you went out prying the wedding ring off his cold, dead finger.
    Bender: I love you, buddy! (He hugs Fry.)
  • The Fairly Oddparents: Implied with the Alpha Bitch Trixie in the first two seasons. She's mean and snobby when her friends are around but shows a softer side when they're not. However, flanderization removed any signs of this trope.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Jerkass Facade


Duncan's soft side

Duncan, the resident bad boy, tries to deny that he found a new bunny for DJ, not wanting to be seen as soft.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / HiddenHeartOfGold

Media sources:

Main / HiddenHeartOfGold