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Jerk with a Heart of Gold
aka: Jerkass With A Heart Of Gold

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"I must be cruel, only to be kind;
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind."

A person you would expect to be a big Jerkass has some redeeming qualities behind their tough demeanor. Occasionally, they'll try to make it a Hidden Heart of Gold.

In a romance series, a female character filling this role is usually a Tsundere instead (occasionally she's both). A male version is usually Troubled, but Cute, and his heart of gold should never outweigh his inner jerk because All Girls Want Bad Boys, though it can if Single Woman Seeks Good Man. If his jerkishness threatens to overshadow his good qualities, he's likely to attract a Love Martyr.


Sometimes Truth in Television, though you can expect Real Life examples of this to be far more subtle than fictional ones. Often this is Played for Laughs, but not always. They are just as common in drama, suspense, horror and other genres as they are in comedy. One reason for this is that they make an convenient Plot Device. After all, the supposed jerkass turning out to save the family from their real stalker, instead of being said stalker, can be a source of Heartwarming Moments when done right.

If he's a manly-man who pursues an unexpectedly delicate hobby, it may be a case of Real Men Wear Pink. Audiences may also sympathize more with the JWAHOG if he's shown to frequently have a good reason to act angry or annoyed. Even the most patient of souls can only endure being the Only Sane Man when they're Surrounded by Idiots for so long, after all. One or two Pet the Dog moments scattered around for character depth does not grant a heart of gold. A true JWAHOG has many Pet the Dog moments. Or maybe those moments are rare, but powerful. Or maybe they skew more toward the "Jerk" part but start making a point of showing the "Heart of Gold" part following a Jerkass Realization. Either way, ultimately they manage to balance out the jerk in them. If it doesn't balance out, they're just a regular jerkass, or worse, a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk.


Not to be confused with a certain jerk whose spaceship is named "The Heart of Gold." Even if he is an example. Or a group of people who helped defend the Heart of Gold, even though — again — they include at least two examples.

Compare/contrast with Hidden Heart of Gold, Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, Noble Demon, Bruiser with a Soft Center, Hero with an F in Good, Innocently Insensitive, Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other, and Sour Outside, Sad Inside. Sometimes subverted as Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk. The Lovable Alpha Bitch can also overlap with female examples of this trope.

Any Nice Guy have a complete heart of gold while the trope on this page tends to vary between this trope and the former trope.

The Lancer and Loveable Rogue are often, but not always, portrayed in this light. One half of the Belligerent Sexual Tension couple. Also compare Good Is Not Nice.


Truth in Television: Most of the jerks you'll meet in your life will have some redeeming qualities to them. Few people are such jerks that they don't care about anyone, and cynical people tend to handle bad situations better, so having one as a friend can be useful when things go downhill. Given that this would still call real life people jerks, please do not add real life examples.


See, this page is just a big ol' softie.

Alternative Title(s): Jerkass With A Heart Of Gold


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