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Karmic Butt-Monkey

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"Tom, being a cat, of course, sees [Jerry] either as a meal or as an interference. Whatever the setup, he's always the one who starts the fight, which makes it very easy to laugh when he gets his comeuppance. But that's not the only reason to feel like he deserves it; he's cocky, he's egotistical, he's prone to anger, he's stubborn."
The Nostalgia Critic on Thomas "Tom" Cat,note  "Why is Tom and Jerry Genius?"

This is a Butt-Monkey whose misfortune is well-deserved and a repeated case of Laser-Guided Karma. Maybe they're just enough of a Jerkass. But far more frequently they are a fully-blown baddie. If the character is an outright villain, they are very rarely the Big Bad - they are generally a lackey or a particularly incompetent Starscream. For many, this can make the Karmic Butt-Monkey come off as more pitiable than anything else, becoming easily mockable for the fandom.

The Karmic Butt-Monkey’s natural enemy is often the Unintentionally Karmic, a Nice Guy character who offers Unwanted Assistance and friendship to the Butt-Monkey, only for their actions to set off Disaster Dominoes or some other horrible effect that always ends in suffering for the bad guys.

A Sub-Trope of Butt-Monkey and Laser-Guided Karma. Sister trope to Asshole Victim (though that's also a Super-Trope) but they don't die, and while this trope is a guest character or someone only seen getting karma once, the Karmic Butt-Monkey is a main/recurring character who has a Running Gag of getting the short end of the stick. May become Unintentionally Sympathetic if the Butt-Monkey part overlaps too much the Jerkass part.

Compare Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, when the only difference is that this character isn't necessarily the protagonist. It is more than likely that the subject becomes the unintended kind of Laughably Evil and an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Compare Jerkass Woobie and The Chew Toy, sometimes they overlap, though. Often the victim of Contempt Crossfire as well. If the character eventually dies (and becoming an Asshole Victim), expect to be a Karmic Death, of course.

Compare and contrast Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, a villainous character who fails so often and so hard (often resulting in them harming themselves) that you can't help but pity them and yet there is all too often overlapping and they end up both laughed at and pitied by the audience. Contrast Kafka Komedy, where pain all-too-often happens to someone who especially doesn't deserve it.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: Any time Chuuya tries anything considered bad or underhanded, he is almost guaranteed to be humiliated in short order, usually by Dazai. This is even how he debuts, as Chuuya tries killing Dazai only to be immediately blackmailed and emasculated by his ex-partner. However, it feels less deserved after it's revealed that Dazai had not been a nice partner and was often responsible for causing Chuuya suffering, yet never really received any comeuppance.
  • Durarara!!: Izaya becomes this in the final season and deserves every bit of punishment he gets, given he is a Manipulative Bastard internet troll responsible for causing massive strife amongst numerous characters. Within the span of only a few hours, his plans fall completely apart, his minions abandon and betray him, his scheme to kill Shizuo fails miserably and Izaya is beaten within an inch of his life before he's forced to flee Ikebukuro permanently, with not a single character giving a damn about his predicament.
  • Future Card Buddyfight: Student council president Magorokou Shido constantly suffers punishment and humiliation from anyone and everyone, even his own buddy monster. You don't have to feel sorry for him, considering he's a corrupt, egotistical asshole who willingly supports the goals of several Big Bads in the series.
  • I'm the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire!: Con Man Musashi for years exploited Liam by pretending to be a Master Swordsman and offering impossible training tasks, which in a case of Spring Time For Hitler, succeeded. Thus, the story repeatedly cuts to Musashi suffering for his association with Liam in one way or another, all while Liam is blissfully unaware and has misguided (and literal) Hero Worship for him.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Cameo. He is a minor villain who got things thrown at him from the pipe he used to breathe underground, got literally pissed on by Avdol and Polnareff, and then he was even burned alive by the former. He also is one of the most despicable minions of DIO, exploiting the death of Polnareff's sister and the supposed death of Avdol to make replicas of them and try to murder the Crusader.
    • Alessi. He is slashed and thrown out of a window by a baby Polnareff who also poops on his face, then Kid Jotaro gives him a beating, then both Polnareff and Jotaro give him a barrage. And he was lucky. He was a cowardly killer that turned his foes into children and even tried to shoot and axe them. He even turned a woman into a fetus and is implied to be a pedophile, so he deserved worse.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: King Dedede tends to suffer the most punishment and humiliation out of any character in the show. A lot of it is justified since he's a greedy egotistical tyrant who's always plotting to get rid of Kirby using monsters who also terrorize Dream Land.
  • My First Girlfriend Is a Gal: Yui Kashii is a haughty Alpha Bitch hiding behind a dignified and pleasant demeanor. However, this illusion is shattered when her favorite "pet", Junichi, begins dating another girl and no longer gives her the same attention. Her jealousy prompts Yui to hatch multiple schemes to steal "her dog" back from Yukana, which typically fail and result in her being placed in some kind of humiliating or objectifying position. Even after she goes through a Love Epiphany and Jerkass Realization, and no longer sees Junichi as merely a "pet", she still has a habit of scheming to seduce him, usually with the same results. When one character asks why she keeps putting herself through it, she simply states that any chance of being with Junichi is Worth It.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!: Tomoko's often unscrupulous ways of trying to look cool will bite her in the ass and turn out horribly for her.
  • One Piece:
    • Spandam, the cowardly and manipulative leader of CP9 who constantly suffers punishment since his debut from both enemies and allies. All of it is well-deserved, given that he's responsible for the execution of Franky and Iceburg's mentor Tom, crippling Franky and forcing him to become a cyborg, severe abuse of Nico Robin while literally dragging her to Enies Lobby, both emotional and physical, beating up Franky while he couldn't fight back, and trying to get his hands on the blueprints for the ancient weapon Pluton so he can amass even more power than before. The end of the Enies Lobby arc has him left beaten senseless and a broken spine and Rob Lucci eventually becoming his new boss when they get transferred to CP0.
    • Demalo Black, a Fat Bastard pirate who got the ingenious idea to impersonate Luffy in order to amass an army of strong pirates and loved shooting pirates who had low bounties and innocent civilians for petty reasons. When the real Strawhats return to Sabaody, Black and his crew of Fakes end up getting effortlessly beaten up and/or humiliated multiple times by them and the marines, not to mention pirates like Caribou who were planning on killing them to bolster their own reputation. Black is beaten senselessly by Sentomaru and arrested while the other fakes are Buried Alive by Caribou.
    • Buggy the Clown, a low-level pirate captain who terrorized the East Blue. Upon meeting Luffy, he's subjected to one indignity after another, from having his own power exploited for a Groin Attack, to getting struck by lightning, to getting locked up in Impel Down and used as a Human Shield by other characters.
    • There's also the aformentioned "Wet Haired" Caribou, an Ax-Crazy up and coming pirate who favors burying his victims alive and tries to kill Luffy to bolster his reputation. When he tries to do the latter, he's easily dealt with and ends up suffering all kinds of misfortunes upon arriving in the New World, whether it's getting his ass kicked by stronger pirates like Luffy and Pekoms or becoming one of the inmates in Kaido's prison in Wano.
    • Caesar Clown, the Big Bad of the Punk Hazard arc who specializes in making WMDs, one of which was responsible for the destruction of an entire island, sees his own followers as expendable guinea pigs, and subjected dozens of children to an experimental gigantification formula that also reduced their remaining lifespan to less than five years. Following Caesar's defeat, he's reduced to a bargaining chip and tool to be used by the Straw Hats and Trafalgar Law due to the latter holding his heart hostage. He's also doomed to suffer the wrath of Big Mom, as instead of using the funds she gave him to create the gigantification formula she wanted, Caesar shamelessly blew it all on groupies and alcohol because he thought he was safe from her as he supposedly had the indirect protection of Kaido through Donquixote Doflamingo.
    • Charlos the Celestial Dragon has committed several atrocities, like beating up slaves for no reason, making women sex slaves even if they are married, shooting sick people and trying to buy a mermaid princess, Shirahoshi, as a slave. So, he deserved being disrespected by Zoro, being punched senseless by Luffy, being clubbed by a fellow Celestial Dragon, Mjosgard, and pounded into the ground by Sai and Leo so hard he folded like an accordion.
  • Osomatsu-san: Iyami is a selfish con artist who has a big opinion of himself despite not having much going on. His schemes tend to backfire on him and he tends to suffer because of the Matsuno brothers' actions (either indirectly or directly).
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: Marie was a Spoiled Brat with an All Take and No Give relationship to her brother which caused his death, in her past life. What followed, was a Trauma Conga Line of abusive partners and debt, ended by a husband killing her. Afterwards, Marie reincarnated in another world as an unwanted and abused child forced to pay her new family's debts. Marie proceeds to seduce five guys for Gold Digger reasons while making Olivia and Angelica suffer to make that possible, but then the five boyfriends proceed to endlessly make her suffer due to being Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense after going from Riches to Rags. Marie's supposed to be The Chew Toy, but Word of God admitted to making her Unintentionally Sympathetic.

    Asian Animation 
  • Noonbory and the Super 7: Wangury's petty plots often land him in some kind of comically embarrassing trouble. In "Wangury Wants to Fly" (the first episode alone), he steals some Beavyuck eggs, only for them to hatch and playfully try to peck him.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Wolffy's the main antagonist of the series who is always trying to catch and eat the goats, but his plans to catch them always result in some kind of slapstick for him.

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: Phoney tends to get into embarrassing situations quite a lot as a result of trying to scam people (along with his schemes to get rich).
  • The Boys: Rayner's assistant Monkey is constantly humiliated by Butcher (and got the nickname from an incident where a pair of monkeys had sex with his ears) and is shown to have a fetish for paraplegic athletes to the point of going to an event with a popcorn box with a hole in the bottom. When he replaces Rayner as head of the CIA, he goes into full Tyrant Takes the Helm mode... which only lasts long enough for him to corner and try to rape a Paralympics competitor. Butcher steps in to save Monkey from a Curb-Stomp Battle (a paraplegic athlete is still an athlete), explains that Monkey isn't right in the head, and has Monkey raped by his dog.
  • Joker: Johnny Frost is an ambitious young gangster (and wifebeater) who thinks sucking up to the Joker will make him a bigshot. Every single villain sees him for the dumbass he is and lets him know it in no uncertain terms (when he tries to boss Killer Croc around because they both work for the Joker, Croc hangs him on a meat hook).
  • Scooter Girl: Given Ashton's philandering personality and behavior, it's hard not to see his misfortune as anything but deserved, at least at first. Margaret later lampshades how she wasn't much better than him, kicking him while he was down.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • The Mountain and the Wolf:
    • The captain of a dark elf slave ship is repeatedly insulted by the Wolf, then tied to the mast of his ship as it goes through the Warp, then gets sandwiched between two undead corpses before finally being sold as a slave to Chaos Dwarfs. Dark elves are among the most sadistic of Warhammer's factions, so it's hard to feel sorry for him.
    • The Wolf's henchman Einarr is constantly told he's doing something wrong by the Wolf. However, apart from soliciting Melisandre as a prostitute, he's not actively shown being evil apart from being part of a group of Always Chaotic Evil fantasy Vikings who are shown gleefully committing war crimes.

    Films — Animation 
  • Bambi II: Ronno's a bully and a braggart who can't back up his claims, so naturally, whenever he boasts or is mean to Bambi, he will be knocked down a few pegs shortly afterwards.
  • The Loud House Movie: Throughout the first half of the movie, the corrupt Morag is constantly pushed around by the Loud children (with the exception of Lincoln).
  • Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright: Dewey Ottoman turns out to be the Phantom or one of them, anyway. During his attempt to steal the Soap Diamond and kill the gang after they get it back, he suffers a number of things that trigger his germophobia, such as being covered in some liquid from barrels, landing in a trash barge, and handling a slobbery dog bone.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla vs. Kong: Maia Simmons. She's not nearly as steely as her father believes her to be, and it shows – of course, since she's also an obnoxious, stuck-up Rich Bitch, to say nothing of her villainous actions, her misfortunes are quite satisfying. After the bridge of the naval carrier is temporarily flooded, the camera focuses on a drenched Maia standing on her own, vomiting seawater. After the HEAVs cross the Vile Vortex's boundary into the Hollow Earth, Maia is the only one onboard Team Kong's HEAV who needs to make use of a barf bag due to the effects of the trippy ride; an occurrence which Nathan predicted precisely before they went in. To say nothing of the embarrassingly comical way that Maia causes her own death.
  • John Wick: The movie relishes in showing Iosef Tarasov's suffering and terror in the face of John's vengeance, after Iosef played a major part in killing his dog and stealing his prized 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. The entire movie makes it clear from how much of a Determinator John is and how much of a Dirty Coward that Iosef is that it's not a matter of if John will put a bullet in his head, but when he will. All of this started because Iosef felt insulted for John sassing him in refusal to sell his car on the spot.
  • Rogue One: Orson Krennic tends to draw the short end of the stick whenever he appears, getting attacked, humiliated, or suffering from bodily harm. He also gets little-to-no respect from Tarkin and Darth Vader, losing command of the Death Star to Tarkin, gets Force-choked by Vader when he tries to complain about it, and finally gets killed directly by the Death Star's superlaser beam. But since he's an uncharismatic, pompous, arrogant, irrelevant villain who has committed countless atrocities by killing imperials or innocent people, as well as taking away Jyn's parents and forcing her to fend for herself, it's safe to say he had it coming.

  • Captain Underpants:
    • Kipper, Loogie, Bugg, and Finkstein are bullies to the kindergartners and revel in hurting them. George and Harold get their revenge by pranking them. At first, Kipper gets the worst of it when George and Harold make it look like he has an Unmanly Secret (which he doesn't have), but then his friends begin to get the brunt of it as well when George and Harold trick them into thinking that the nonexistent ghost Wedgie Magee is after them.
    • Mr. Krupp tends to be on the receiving end of George and Harold's pranks, directly and indirectly. Besides that, he's had his share of embarrassing situations. Considering that he's a Dean Bitterman who bullies his students, it's safe to say that it's all karmic.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg is an egotistical, smart-alecky Dirty Coward who often doesn't give a damn about others. He usually ends up paying for it whenever he steps out of line in any way, especially when he tries to hide what he's done. Although in some of the later books, bad things happen to him for no reason, even if it's not (directly) karmic.
  • Harry Potter: Draco Malfoy is constantly suffering some over the top misfortunes like being smacked in the face by Hermione or turned into a ferret, and he gets hexed on the Hogwarts Express by several different students at the end of two subsequent books. Considering that he's a racist bully and all around Jerkass and his suffering is usually the result of him provoking or outright attacking his classmates, it's hard to have much sympathy for him. Until Book 6, where he is tasked to assassinate Dumbledore and realizes that not only is he in way over his head, but he isn’t evil enough to commit murder — and worse, Voldemort will kill not only Draco but his parents for failing, leading to a case of Break the Haughty.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Boys (2019): The Deep is a Deconstruction. While he is an absolute garbage human being in every way, shape and form imaginable, and richly deserves his comeuppance, the sheer level of pain, humiliation and general shit he gets put through while his equally vile colleagues get off scot-free makes you wonder where the line between satisfaction at a righteous infliction of retribution and gleeful sadism actually goes, and on which side you fall.
  • Game of Thrones: Joffery Baratheon whom despite being the king, suffers a lot of misfortune, which includes but is not limited to getting bitchslapped by his uncle Tryion, is reduced to tears when a little girl kicks his ass, and whenever he tries to assert his authority, he ends up being humiliated, especially by his grandfather and uncle who boss him around and insult him. Then he gets murdered at his own wedding which nobody, aside from his mother, really cares about as they all despise him. You'd almost feel sorry for him if he weren't such a reprehensible, sadistic, little monster.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The main characters are a bunch of Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists. They try to scheme their way through life, but usually just end up making things worse for themselves and/or each other. Two of the protagonists are considered Butt Monkeys: Charlie, a stalker, and Dee, who once set a woman on fire.
  • LazyTown: Whenever Robbie Rotten concocts a plan to make people act lazy against their will, this plan will result in him being comically injured in some fashion.
  • Lost: Benjamin Linus is the series' main Manipulative Bastard, an unrepentant murderer and makes the survivors' time on the Island a living hell for no good reason. He's also on the receiving end of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown so many times it comes across as a Running Gag.
  • M*A*S*H: If anytime you see Frank Burns being a jerk, you won't have to wait long before misfortune befalls him in return.
  • The Nanny: On one hand, C.C. Babcock is a horrible, greedy and selfish Rich Bitch; on the other hand, she is also by far the most abused character on the show, especially when she is around Niles who always loves making fun of her.
  • Oz:
    • If anyone is going to get beat up, it generally tends to be Oz's resident bully Kenny Wangler.
    • Supreme Allah is constantly subject to all manners of Frame Ups and attempts on his life, while all of his schemes constantly blow up in his face. Given that he's also an arrogant thug who once beat up the wheelchair-bound Hill for no reason, it's hard to feel sorry for him.
  • Logan Reese in Zoey 101 suffers the most misfortune of the main cast, though he's also such a jerk towards others (even to his friends) that it's mostly just karma giving him a good dose of often humiliating punishment. However, a few times, his punishments come off as Karmic Overkill.

    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes: Edelgard promotes Count Varley to Bishop of the Southern Church, which promptly turns him into a target of many assassination attempts by the Central Church and reduces him to a reclusive, paranoid wreck. Meanwhile, his allies, especially Bernadetta and Hubert, have very little respect for him, and the latter of the two makes it clear that they only need him alive for political reasons, and it's all but stated that Edelgard promoted him with the intent of making his life less comfortable while filling a seat. Given his abuse of Bernadetta, his greed and his involvement in the Insurrection of the Seven, he practically earned his predicament. From a gameplay standpoint, while he is considered a main objective that needs protecting in the final chapter of Scarlet Blaze, he is one of the few where his death doesn't result in a Game Over, and Hubert's only gripe with his death is that he's going to be hard to replace.
  • Genshin Impact: Childe is tasked with stealing Rex Lapis' gnosis. To accomplish this, he deceives the Traveler to lead him to it, but when that doesn't pan out, he summons Osial to threaten Liyue and draw Rex Lapis out. Outside of that, he's an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight (albeit a weirdly Affably Evil one) with a massive body count. He's later not pleased to find out La Signora and Zhongli had already negotiated for the gnosis and Childe was only an unwitting pawn used to test Liyue, who was never meant to succeed. On top of that, he's wrongfully blamed for Rex Lapis' 'murder', ruining his reputation.
  • Hollow Knight: Zote the Mighty is a big-mouthed egotistical Jerkass who always belittles the Knight and treats it like a nobody, all while bragging about victories he never achieved. He's also extremely weak and always ends up in trouble. In fact, when the Knight meets him for the first time, he gets chewed on by the Vengefly King and can potentially die if you neglect to save him, complete with the achievement if you do so, and later he gets webbed up by spiders in Deepnest and gets captured by the Fools to fight in their Colosseum against his own will, to be humiliated in public.
  • Mario & Luigi: Popple, the self-proclaimed "Shadow Thief", never manages to successfully get away with his stolen goods and suffers at the hands of his lackeys. Even his Bros. Attacks lead him to get harmed in some extraordinary action. It's hard to say he didn't have it coming, considering how he acts a Bad Boss towards his rookies, blames them when things go wrong, and runs away if his rookies are defeated first. He also needlessly provokes a Wiggler into fighting him and the Mario Bros., acts as The Millstone throughout the battle, and betrays Mario and Luigi after the Wiggler is defeated. His bad treatment of Birdo would lead her to attack him and send him flying, the Mario Bros. take him down pretty easily every time they fight (especially during the Wiggler boss fight, where the Mario Bros. also have to attack him to stop him from provoking the Wiggler further), and the Wiggler chases him out of his garden when he proceeds to insult it.
  • Naughty Bear: The teddy bears tend to be terrorized and even killed by Naughty (though they always come back), but he does this as revenge for them ostracizing and making fun of him even if he does something good. It doesn't help that they can never remember that he has a breaking point.
  • Neighbours From Hell: Rottweiler is aptly known as a neighbor from hell, being a huge source of misery for the people around him, including unfriendly interactions with children, abusing animals for his own entertainment, and peeping on women, on top of many typical Jerkass attributes, which eventually gets himself repeatedly pranked by the player character and Karmic Trickster Woody. No matter how often Woody's pranks throw Rottweiler into a fit of rage, he refuses to take any effort to improve himself on any sort of standard throughout the scenarios through which you prank him in.
  • Persona 4: Yosuke is a downplayed example. While he often does bring his Butt-Monkey status upon himself (namely when he makes fun of Kanji's sexuality or signed the girls up for a beauty pageant behind their backs) there are just as many times when he doesn't (such as getting his scooter wrecked shortly after getting it or Chie spending his money on an expensive outfit for Teddie without his permission).
  • Super Solvers: Morty Maxwell is the main antagonist of the series. A common Running Gag throughout the series is him telling the robots about how they can attack the Super Solver, only for the robots to use said attack on him. He also usually gets defeated in very comical ways. And because of all the trouble he causes, it's pretty funny to watch.

    Web Animation 
  • GoAnimate: Whenever a troublemaker causes some kind of mischief, destruction, or chaos, they will always be punished for it. They'll either be grounded for a ridiculously long time and/or receive "Punishment Days" from their parents.
  • Happy Tree Friends: Lifty and Shifty are uncaring crooks who steal and swindle other people. The show balances this out by giving them some of the lowest survival rates in the series, and they painfully die in almost every single episode they appear in. In the internet series, they die in every one of their appearances, and they only fare slightly better in the TV series.
  • Queer Duck: Dr. Laura Schlessinger suffers a humiliating injury in every one of her appearances. Given that she is a fictional representation of a real-life homophobe, she has it coming.



Video Example(s):


Igor Nevsky

Igor Nevsky, among the terrorists. He gets yelled at for failing to capture the President during the initial hijacking, gets captured by Marshall while guarding the hostages, and finally gets blown out of the plane by Sergei-with no parachute.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / KarmicButtMonkey

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