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Jerkass Ball

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This is when Taking a Level in Jerkass is plot-requested. Sometimes, an otherwise nice person becomes a Jerkass unexpectedly, most likely to advance the plot, to teach An Aesop, or sometimes simply for humor value.

In-story, the sudden change in behavior can have a variety of reasons. Sometimes they're mundane everyday reasons such as merely having a bad day and can include longer-term ones such as intense levels of stress over an extensively period of time. Others could because of certain scenarios; maybe that one activity just has them lose their patience. Sometimes the Jerkass Ball is a more literal thing, such as alcohol and the character in question being a mean drunk. Of course, supernatural, paranormal or abnormal items being the literal Jerkass Ball is common too; the portrayal of Superman under the effects of Red Kryptonite is an example.

If done to deliberately take The Straight Man or Nice Guy down a peg, it counts as Not So Above It All.

Opposite of Kindness Ball.

Common in You Go, Girl! plots, where male characters who have never demonstrated any kind of sexist behavior before suddenly turn into raging Straw Misogynists.

Acquired Situational Narcissism is a specific ego centered example of this trope.

May overlap with Not Himself, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, Depending on the Writer and Comedic Sociopathy. If done in a particularly exaggerated manner that in no way befits their normal characterization it is likely an Out-of-Character Moment or a Moment of Weakness. If the character has not actually become a Jerkass, but merely presented that way, it's Superdickery. Not to be confused with the Haters' Ball.

Despite being a temporary change of personality plot wise, characters can eventually snap themselves out of it, leading them to an apology and/or a reconcilement scenario between the other characters during the plot.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Throughout Year 2 of Amazing Agent Luna, Luna, Francesca, and Oliver all grip it tightly at various points for a variety of reasons, from Fantastic Racism towards the science-y to feelings of near-total abandonment.
  • In the Doraemon 2014 reboot episode "Noby the Robot", Noby firmly grasps the ball as he shirks all responsibilities by making miniature robot versions of his friends and bossing them around. Of course, this ends badly for him and his mom denies supper until he pulls all of the weeds himself like she asked.
  • As much as the Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger tend to get on each others' nerves already, the team was collectively being cruel even by their standards during the first part of Episode 5, as the show wanted Tart to feel the need to change into her Hotter and Sexier Second Form.
    Hols: Tart! Hurry up and move that big butt of yours off me, somewhere else!
    Tart: What? Well, I'm sorry my butt is big! Leave me alone!
    Nyorori: Telling a lady her butt is big is terribly rude nyorori.
    Hols: But it's true!
    Bakumaru: So, then, the one with the big butt didn't mean to say that... let's find the Ugly Duckling!
    Bakumaru: What do you think, Tart?
    Tart: (Inner Monologue) No matter what, my butt is big]]...
    Bakumaru: What is it? Are you still worked up over what happened earlier?
    Urii: What happened earlier?
    Nyorori: Yeah, it's ugly, nyorori.
    Hols: Yeah, it's ugly.
    Tart: (growls) I'll always be the ugly, big-butt bird! You guys' constant chatter is irritating. Hmmph...
    Bakumaru: Hey! Wait, Tart!... Jeez, acting all saucy... Who are you? The one calling herself ugly, big-butt, and hysterical?
    Urii: You added one more.
    Bakumaru: ... ah, did I?...
  • Downplayed example in Major. Goro's friend and rival Toshiya, despite having before supported Goro's decision to leave Kaido Academy to challenge them instead of playing for them, during the tournament is shown to look down on Goro and his new Seisshu High team, fully confident that there's no way he could beat them. When they finally face each other in the tournament, he's forced to rethink his opinion when Goro, against all odds, manages to put Kaido against the ropes, forcing the game to extra innings, and doing so with an injured ankle, making it clear things could have gone differently had Goro been on top of his game.
  • Even after Sakura's Character Development in the manga, the Naruto fillers tend to ignore that for the sake of comedy.
  • In Pokémon Journeys: The Series, during Ash's revisit to Alola, Kiawe starts being very judgmental on Goh because he feels like Goh isn't all that interested in helping Ash out despite being a traveling companion. It takes a quick test battle for Kiawe to drop the ball.
  • In Ranma ½, Ranma's dad Genma was always a bit of a careless jerk, but definitely took a level with the introduction of the Nekoken (a super-secret technique that can only be taught by torturing children), turning him from Bumbling Dad to insane, nightmare dad. It's also a case of Never Live It Down, since he rarely does anything else that approaches that level of horrific stupidity.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • While the Inner Guardians (bar Rei) are generally Nice Girls, plenty of moments will have them be jerks to Usagi due to Rule of Funny. One of the worst examples by far is episode 106, where they not only refuse to share the blame with Usagi over what happenednote  but laugh when Chibi-Usa keeps giving Usagi a hard time at the end.
    • Usagi herself isn't immune to this, having moments of selfishness and insensitivity. Sometimes, she will insult and belittle Chibi-Usa (her future daughter), even when the latter hasn't done anything wrong.
    • Luna the Cat is usually stern but reasonable, but she also has her moments of being downright cruel to Usagi (blaming her for stuff way out of control or even shaming her over her insecuritiesnote ) and Artemis (beating him up for no good reason, even when he goes out of his way to support her).

    Comic Books 
  • Black Canary: Deconstruction. During the Cry for Justice and Rise and Fall storylines, Black Canary (Dinah Lance) abandons her husband Green Arrow I (Oliver Queen) and her adopted son Speedy I/Arsenal/Red Arrow I (Roy Harper). When Oliver is in prison for the murder of Prometheus, she returns her wedding ring and declares their marriage over. When Roy goes back to using heroin after the pain in his right arm becomes too unbearable because of the infection and the horrible prosthetic Cyborg made, she officially considers him a lost cause. It is implied that Dinah was traumatized because of the events of the story and was lashing out at them. In Birds of Prey, it is revealed Dinah harbors a huge amount of guilt for her actions and regrets abandoning them when they needed her the most.
  • Green Lantern: In Green Lantern: Rebirth, after Parallax, the cosmic horror living embodiment of fear, has started wreaking havoc on Earth, the recently returned Hal Jordan gets ready to lead the rest of the Earth Green Lanterns against it... and Batman stops him for no reason other than being unreasonably paranoid and distrustful.
  • Justice League of America: Justice League: Cry for Justice hands the ball to several heroes, making them increasingly violent and sadistic in their efforts to track down criminals. The worst of them is Ray Palmer, who tortures information out of Killer Moth by shrinking to a microscopic size, entering his brain and enlarging slightly to simulate a stroke—the same method Jean Loring used to kill Sue Dibny.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW):
    • "Wings over Yakyakistan" (issues 55-56) turns into a Jerkass Ball free-for-all when the plot gets going:
      • Yakyakistan is attacked out of nowhere by a flock of dragons, led by what is revealed to be the new Dragon Lord Ember. She is initially reluctant to take time out from making war to explain herself, but then claims that Pinkie Pie being given the title of "honorary yak" violated some sacred bond between yaks and dragons. She references an ancient treaty and claims that the sacred bond is "one that never would be replicated", but does not point out anything in their treaty where the yaks specifically agreed not to grant the title of "honorary yak" to any other creature. It is only after much prodding from Spike that Ember makes any attempt at a peaceful resolution. All that despite the fact that Spike had given Ember the position of Dragon Lord after she gave him every reason to trust that she was the new leader the dragons needed to avoid senseless war.
      • As the ponies take shelter from the dragon attack, some of them make blatantly insensitive remarks about dragons... right in front of Spike.
    • In The 2014 Equestria Girls Holiday Special, the Rainbooms take it up to eleven when they falsely accuse Sunset Shimmer of being Anon-A-Miss.
  • Superman:
    • In Adventure Comics #267, the three founders of the Legion of Super-Heroes learn about Superboy apparently going on a rampage, destroying an aircraft-carrier as well as several military and civilian facilities. Rather than asking him about it -or taking advantage of Saturn Girl's telepathy and probing Superboy's mind subtly-, the trio assume that Superboy has become an outlaw and try to ruin his reputation before capturing him.
    • Elseworlds story Superman: Distant Fires had Captain Marvel not only become arrogant and power-hungry, but the main villain of the comic, trying to kill Superman for leadership. Keep in mind that Captain Marvel is usually one of the more kindly DC Superheroes.
  • X-Men:
    • Professor X has a notorious habit of clinging on to the Ball at times. For example, at the very beginning of The Dark Phoenix Saga, Charles has freshly returned from space, and after a few weeks with the X-Men Cyclops finds Wolverine storming out of the Danger Room in a bad mood, telling Cyke to tell the Prof he's not going to be treated like a kid. Cyclops goes to chat with the Professor, and tries telling him the current X-Men team are not a bunch of teenagers in need of guidance, but grown adults who know full well what they're doing and how to do it. Chuck's response? "Yes, that's your fault, and I'm going to have to do something about it." Cyclops doesn't manage to get through to him before they're distracted by Cerebro going off.
    • In Classic X Men, Bobby/Iceman isn't pleased at all with all these strangers joining what he considers his family, even when they are being friendly to him. He outright attacks Thunderbird (basically reinforcing Thunderbird's notoriously crappy attitude to the other X-Men).

    Fan Works 
  • In Hunters of Justice, Ruby Rose is normally an all loving Humble Hero, but she becomes surprisingly selfish on her birthday. Since Halloween happens to land on her birthday, that selfishness is passed to the holiday. Demonstrated in "Ruby's Halloween Do-Over" where she forces teams RWBY and JNPR to go trick-or-treating with her after their Halloween was ruined by Trigon, when she hoarded an entire batch of cookies for herself that were meant for everyone.
    Ruby: [running away with the cookies] IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!
    Weiss: It is not!
    Ruby: DO-OVER!
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton
    • Clover tries to set up Alex with one of Dash's friends, Dale, even though she knows Alex is dating Danny, because Danny is not into sports like Alex. And when Dale tries to attack Alex for not leaving Danny for him, Clover does not care. To be fair, according to Word of God, Dash stopping Dale attacking Alex for pragmatic reasons was the reason she did nothing.
    • Clover dumped Dash for Ron because he was temporary rich, then went back to Dash when Ron lost his money, only to regretted not staying with Ron when she learn that he get his money back. Yes Dash a jerk, but at the time he did nothing to deserve that.
    • During the So Totally the Drama arc when Clover learn that Kim and Ron we're dating she was disgusted, she mock the both of them behind there back, whispering to Alex that Kim is either desperate or hoping Ron would become rich again. Despite the fact that she dated Ron for his money and regret dumping him when she learn he get his money back.
  • In The Panda Chronicles chapter "Feeling Faint", a combination of heat exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and endless mosquito bites turn Jesse into a grouchy, irritable jackass. Played for Drama; this is what fuels his refusal to believe T when he tell him he's sick, which makes him feel worse and lands him in the hospital.
  • Total Drama What If Series Sky gets a huge one. Just like Leshawna, she pretends to cry so her team would let her be with her sister. Unlike Leshawna, when she was exposed, she doesn't feel bad for it and to add insult to injury, she insults the remaining contestants behind their back and still doesn't apologize. This disgusting and vile behavior gets her eliminated.

    Film — Animated 
  • BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows: Matau, the self obsessed but fun loving thrill seeker becomes an unbearable jerk even prior to his ego-destroying ugly mutation, taking out his anger on team leader Vakama and his failings, which causes Vakama to lose patience with him and join the villain team. Oddly, Matau seemingly took this role over from Onewa, who was already set up as the most abrasive member of his team, yet is much more level-headed in this film. The only time Onewa displays aggression is when even he's had enough of Matau's behavior. BIONICLE comic writer Greg Farshtey however actually hated the film for not making Matau even worse, as he felt it would have made more sense for him to turn evil, rather than Vakama.
  • Incredibles 2: When a stressed, sleep-deprived Bob finds out that the Incredibile is not only still intact (having thought it was destroyed) but was bought by a smug rich guy as a collector's item, he takes out the old remote control to it and uses it to control the car remotely, frightening everyone on the scene. He subsequently realizes that he shouldn't be trying to steal his car back.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Phantom (1943): Byron, Diana's love interest in the expedition, gets handed one near the end, revealing that he's only in it for a cut of the lost treasure, and selling out to the bad guys after Professor Davidson points out that if the expedition finds any treasure it will probably go into a museum.
  • Muppets Most Wanted has the Muppets themselves (except for Kermit, Animal and Walter) get hit with this. They let their own egos get the better of them to the detriment of their stage show and spend much of the film treating Kermit rather inconsiderately, from shoving him aside in favor of Dominic to not noticing that his identity has been stolen by Constantine despite how blatantly obvious it is. Even Fozzie, Gonzo, and Scooter - usually three of the nicest Muppets around - aren't immune to this. It isn't until Constantine, under his Kermit guise, falsely tells them that Walter and Fozzie quit the Muppets (when in truth, they, along with Animal, escaped to find the real Kermit after discovering his ruse) and then publicly proposes to Miss Piggy, do they start to get better as they are taken aback by hearing of their friends leaving them, and express concern over what will happen to to the world tour and to them. He tells them they now have all the freedom they want and that he's done with the Muppets, leaving them devastated and depressed, and they drop it completely when Constantine is exposed.
  • In The Rise of Skywalker Rey (usually an All-Loving Hero) becomes a lot more prone to aggression and anger, especially after finding out her grandfather is Darth Sidious and had her parents murdered. After her rage leads her to endanger her friends and wound Kylo Ren in a blind fury, she's horrified at herself, fearing that she will end up falling to the dark side until Luke gives her a pep talk. Afterwards, she's back to her usual Nice Girl self.

  • The Demon Headmaster: In The Prime Minister's Brain, Dinah grabs it when she falls victim to the card inviting her to the Junior Computer Brain Of The Year Competition and starts an argument with Mrs. Hunter over wanting to go to the competition. She's immensely guilty once she's back under her own control and apologizes to Mrs. Hunter.
  • One of the reasons why Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a Contested Sequel is because of Harry's more abrasive characterization. When he's not brooding, he's yelling at his friends and teachers, and breaking up with Cho for calling out Hermione on permanently disfiguring her friend for cracking under pressure against Umbridge. In this case, the reason is due to intense levels of stress with the return of Voldemort and more prominently, being left in the dark about it... not to mention the Ministry more or less conspiring to keep everyone in the dark about it. It's also implied that a large bit of it is pent-up aggression from the events with the past 4 books. In the early chapters, he gives a colossal rant to Ron and Hermione about everything he dealt with and how he's left in the dark since Voldemort's return despite being a prime target and fully knowing what the dark wizard can do.
  • Septimus Heap: The usually nice titular character was rather mean to his sister Jenna at the beginning of Darke, for ostensibly no reason other than to disregard her warnings about a building danger in the Palace.
  • Star Wars Legends: There's a point in Galaxy of Fear where Tash starts pulling away from and being more mean to her brother, which confuses him; since their parents died she's halfway been Promoted to Parent, halfway a partner in their close Brother–Sister Team. Partly this serves to get her involved in the plot, but it's also partly because Tash is almost fourteen, growing up and not needing to be as close anymore. She quickly softens and apologizes for being mean, but while they stay close, in later books there's more distance between them than in the first six.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Penny tends to get stuck with this often despite being quite a Nice Girl in her "normal mode". Usually it's done in order to create conflict between her and Leonard.
    • Bernadette starts grabbing it in later seasons, becoming increasingly mean, particularly towards Howard. Then there's that episode where her Competition Freak tendencies surface, like yelling at Leonard so much during a scavenger hunt she set off an asthma attack.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a short list of those who played with this ball... Buffy Summers, Dawn Summers, Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Rupert Giles, Angel, Spike, Oz, Tara Maclay, Riley Finn, Anya... examples include going off the rails from trauma, anger at the actions of another character, being a Bratty Half-Pint or needing to Shoot the Dog, or Not Himself, or Token Evil Teammate, to cut a very long story short Joss Whedon's Signature Style is Rule of Drama and happiness is boring, anything to twist the knife and twist the characters to pull this off will be done.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Reign of Terror", Ian makes a sarcastic comment about the Doctor's driving skills. The Doctor suddenly forgets all of the Character Development he's had since the series starts and announces that he's going to just dump Ian and Barbara in wherever the next place they land as punishment for being ungrateful.
    • In "The Dæmons", the Third Doctor becomes quite uncharacteristically nasty, in particular aggressively bullying a UNIT technician for only having twentieth-century scientific knowledge, and encouraging Jo to make fun of the Brigadier but then coldly accusing her of insubordination. It's probably meant to be because of how genuinely scared he is of Azal, but this isn't explicitly stated in the story.
    • In "The Brain of Morbius", the Doctor forces Sarah to continue helping him investigate Solon's experiment despite the fact that she was recently blinded and is freaking out and begging him to take her back to the TARDIS. The story even gives him a good excuse not to go back to the TARDIS anyway since the Sisterhood stole it, but this isn't mentioned by anyone and the TARDIS isn't even shown heavily in the scene of their escape from the Sisterhood, making it come across as if he's putting Sarah into a dangerous situation out of sheer lack of caring.
    • "Time Crash": The Fifth Doctor begins the minisode uncharacteristically angry, but calms down once the other occupant of the TARDIS reveals his identity.
  • Girl Meets World's Farkle grabs onto of it in the episode "Girl Meets Crazy Hat", when he decides to make muffins made of nothing but sugar.
  • A first-season episode of Gotham has Gordon catch it after practically the whole GCPD abandons him to Zsasz, to the point where he actively screws over one cop at one point in the episode.
  • House of Anubis- There's one part in season three where Fabian rejects Joy. Being the nicest guy in the house next to Alfie, one would expect him to let her down gently like he'd done all throughout season two. Instead he rejected her in an incredibly harsh way, leaving her utterly heartbroken and to quit Sibuna.
  • Power Rangers Super Megaforce: In "Spirit of the Tiger", a Monster of the Week steals the team's weapons. This causes Troy to inexplicably suffer from this trope, chastising the rest of his team for letting go of their weapons for the majority of the episode (despite the fact that the team is still able to fight using the powers of Wild Force) - something he continues to do even after Jake and Gia learn from Casey Rhodes how to use some kung-fu. Although Megaforce is often criticized for being a Shot-for-Shot Remake of both Tensou Sentai Goseiger and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaigernote , it's worth noting that this is something that wasn't in the latter at all, since while Marvelous (Troy's sentai counterpart) was annoyed by the events of the corresponding episode in the Sentai, he didn't take it out on his fellow Gokaigers.
  • In Sex and the City, Carries grabs this many times over the course of the show:
    • When on a trip with Samantha after taking a long, stressful train journey, Carrie kicks Samantha out of her room when she's having a bath because she wants to have sex with Big.
    • She invites Big (the man she cheated on him with) to Aidan's country house, without asking Aidan his permission.
    • When Miranda accidentally pulls her neck so badly she can't move, Carrie sends Aidan to go help her, even though Miranda fell in the bathroom and is naked, then when Carrie comes over to apologise and brings bagels, she forgets the cream cheese and derails the conversation to whining about how Aidan hasn't forgiven her for cheating on him. Miranda calls her on it.
    • After Samantha gets a chemical peel that badly burns her face and tries to cancel attending Carrie's book launch, but comes anyway when Carrie begs her to. When Samantha shows up, Carrie demands she take her veil off, then after Samantha does, all Carrie does is mock her appearance.
    • When Carrie and Miranda are having a double date with their exes, Steve and Aidan, Carrie decides she wants Aidan back, so she forces Miranda to leave and take Steve with her.
    • Carrie gets angry at Charlotte for not offering her money after Aidan tells her she has to move out and shows up at her apartment to yell at her. Charlotte retorts that Carrie is thirty-five years old and needs to learn to take responsibility for her own finances.
  • In Smallville, red kryptonite is Clark's personal Jerkass Ball.
  • Captain Archer from Star Trek: Enterprise played around with the Jerkass ball in the episode "A Night In Sickbay", rudely dismissing the idea of the Kreetassans being insulted because Porthos relieved himself on a tree (the fact that he brought his dog on a strange alien planet is a bit looney in itself), whining because they won't give them the plasma Injector that they need without him apologizing first, threatening to whiz on their trees himself, and berating everybody around him.
  • The X-Files: Agent Mulder seems to be holding the Jerkass Ball in "Beyond The Sea". He's compassionate enough and he genuinely feels for Scully who is dealing with the loss of her father. He actually calls her Dana several times and suggests her some time off. But he also mocks her for only slightly tending to believe in Boggs, a Serial Killer with Psychic Powers, even though that's something he does all the time. Moreover, he reproaches her for following Boggs's leads (suggesting that it is foolish) and then for not admitting the truth to the investigating team (implying that she is not honest). When she returns to her usual rational explanation at the end, Mulder backs off and asks her why she cannot believe after all she has seen. He was seriously messing with her, probably still not trusting her entirely. Mind you, Agent Scully was originally assigned on the X-Files Unit to spy on him and to debunk his work, but they were seen working well together in episodes that preceded this one.

    Video Games 
  • The boss fight against Mister Freeze in Batman: Arkham City only occurs due to both characters suffering from this trope. Batman is dying from The Joker's infected blood, and Mr Freeze is the only one able to create a cure, so they work together. Upon getting Freeze what he needs to complete the cure, Freeze suddenly decides to destroy one of the two phials and use the only remaining one to blackmail Batman into finding his wife Nora. Instead of simply agreeing to this (which he promised to do anyway earlier), Batman attacks him, forcing Mr Freeze to go all-out in self-defense. They immediately go back to being allies after the fight and never mention it again, and thanks to their fight, Harley Quinn steals the cure.
  • In the remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, an offscreen example happens in the A rank event of Mathilda and Clive's support. Clair, Clive's younger sister, berates Mathilda for showing up Clive on the battlefield, saying it's "unbecoming" of her. Not only does Clair never express these beliefs anywhere else in the game, but she's completely respectful of Mathilda in their supports ("You truly are strong, Mathilda. I hope that I might learn from your courage."), and you can compare the two here.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Hana is unusually hostile toward the Avatar in their support conversations, blaming him/her for making her liege Sakura cry during childhood. Hana doesn't display this level of hostility to the Avatar the main storyline (save for Conquest, when she understandably wants to kill the Avatar for betraying Hoshido), or to anyone else, including her rival Subaki.
  • Sonic Heroes: Espio of Team Chaotix is normally calm and soft-spoken, but he aggravates the Conflict Ball between his team and Team Rose by demanding that Cream hand over Cheese. Cream and Big don't take it well.

  • In Gunnerkrigg Court Chapter 31 "Fire Spike", the cool-headed and stoic Annie argues with much-less-cool-headed Reynardine, beginning with copying her friend Kat's homework, effectively leading to revealing to him a secret that her mother has kept from him her entire life, one that Annie had learned about not 10 minutes ago. She harshly hammers the nail into him about it for little reason until he retaliates in frustration by making what is essentially The Reveal to her. Annie generally never acts this way and doesn't have much reason other than being visibly frustrated previously, but as a whole she's generally stoic.


Video Example(s):


We're gonna go play Hooky!

Despite making a Sailor's Promise to Mr. Krabs to never play on the hooks again, Patrick still goads SpongeBob into doing so.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ToxicFriendInfluence

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