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Jerk with a Heart of Gold

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They're not always this blatant.

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

A person you would expect to be a big jerk 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.

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 a convenient Plot Device. After all, the supposed jerk 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 Jerk with a Heart of Gold 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 do not grant a heart of gold. A true Jerk with a Heart of Gold 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 a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk.

Alternatively Character Development in a long running series can cause these characters to emphase their kindness more. They may even graduate to a full-blown Nice Guy.

Compare/contrast with Jerkass (which is a Super-Trope to this), Hidden Heart of Gold, Mr. Vice Guy, 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, Sour Outside, Sad Inside, Hitman with a Heart, and Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon. Sometimes subverted as Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk. The Lovable Alpha Bitch can also overlap with female examples of this trope.

The Lancer and Lovable Rogue are often, but not always, portrayed in this light. One half of the Belligerent Sexual Tension couple. Also compare Good Is Not Nice and Inferiority Superiority Complex. This trope is also a textbook means of characterizing a Knight in Sour Armor. The character may be generally cold towards others due to their disillusionment with the world. But in the end you can always count on them to do what's right.

Sometimes Truth in Television, though you can expect Real Life examples of this to be far more subtle than fictional ones. 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.

Example subpages:

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


Video Example(s):

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



In the episode's subplot, Bender finds out he'll get a government stipend for adopting an orphan and quickly adopts the Orphanarium's entire brood of 12. It works about as well as you'd expect and he ultimately gives them back, but they all retain their adoration for "Daddy Bender" and even give him a picture they drew of themselves with him, which he criticizes and crumples up in front of them before quietly smoothing it out and sticking it to the inside of his chest door with a magnet as soon as he thinks they're not looking. The kids catch him in the act and delightedly swarm him.

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