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Plucky Comic Relief

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"You know, whenever I'm with you I can't help but feel like a fool for taking things so seriously."

A character whose primary role in the show is to relieve tension with oddball and/or hysterical, buffoonish antics. They have a job to do, but don't get into the thick of things and can stay somewhat detached. Since their purpose is to relieve tension, they almost always have immunity to dying when compared to the other characters. A guaranteed sign that the series is suffering from Cerebus Syndrome or that things are just going to go to Hell from here is to see whether this character either dies, leaves/is left behind or has a complete and utter meltdown, no matter how deserved.

This trope is also known as the "comic relief" and in The Team trope it is known as the Funny Guy. Within The Team they serve the same purpose as in the cast ensemble but this is specifically for the in-universe team members instead of the show's audience. If they can fight, they're likely to be a Fighting Clown.

The term comes from Sam Rockwell's "Guy Fleegman" character in the movie Galaxy Quest (who, in a non-genre blind example of Lampshade Hanging, is afraid that he is only a Red Shirt, until another character suggests that maybe he is instead the "plucky comic relief"), which of course is spoofing the television show Star Trek.

In some cases, similar to Stupid Boss. Many sidekicks fit this description, as well. See Amusing Alien for otherworldly characters whose only purpose is comedy. See The Face for where they have a purpose greater than comedy. Compare Cloudcuckoolander (whereas the humor comes out of sheer eccentricities rather than just being comical, and it can sometimes go hand in hand with each other).

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, Little M. provides a lot of the comedy for most of the scenes that feature him and Big M., often by way of Little M. doing or saying something weird or taking one of Big M.'s commands too literally.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Jackson Barnes is still this among Monarch's G-Team, like in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
  • Mukrezar is a soulless, murderous bastard. He completely wiped out all life on a continent, is an unrepentant torturer who apparently finds screams of the tormented 'soothing', and is also a terrible cook. Despite this, he is an amazingly quirky and charismatic leader, and usually gets an 'episode' every other chapter or so. As the humorous element.
  • Axel fills this role in Keyblade Masters, even though he's introduced late in the story. He also performs this duty in the sequel series, Sentinels of Chaos.

  • From A Symphony of Eternity we have Commodore Dalius Augustus, he's his fleet's resident comedian, but that doesn't stop him from being a badass sentient velociraptor alien who is well versed in fleet warfare and has a sweet tooth! He's best friends with the resident Starscream.
  • Bluebell, the comedian rabbit of Watership Down, serves as a comic relief not only to the readers, but also is an in-story tension breaker. Keehar the seagull serves the purpose in the film adaptation.
  • Madame Khokhlakov's role in The Brothers Karamazov is to provide lighthearted, trivial discussion versus everything else that goes on in the story. She is eternally cheerful and will talk you to death. Dostoevsky used her to insult his critics at the time by having her agree with their works.
  • Harry Potter
    • Fred and George. As the series gets Darker and Edgier, one loses an ear and the other dies.
    • Ron Weasley also fills this role within the main trio, and he's an even earlier gauge of the series' impending dark turn: as early as book four, his general status as Chew Toy produces some moments of unexpectedly bitter resentment. By book seven, he's primed for a complete meltdown.
  • Discworld
    • A casual reading of the Witches novels would suggest that Nanny Ogg's job is to keep bringing the funny, while Granny Weatherwax and Magrat get all the achievements. And this is the case, but what's not always apparent is that this is exactly how she likes things, and if she wanted to be Granny, she easily could be.
    • In the Watch novels, the role is filled by the Watch's most senior and least effective coppers, dim-witted Sergeant Colon and kleptomaniac Gonk Corporal Nobbs.
  • Jacob from Twilight. He is the funniest character in the book. And probably the only one.
  • Graystripe from Warrior Cats is only in the first book to lighten the mood. However, his role greatly increases in later books.
  • Joe from Five Weeks in a Balloon doesn't treat anything too seriously and cracks jokes nearly constantly. A lot of his humor revolves around mock-naivety.
    • The same author's From the Earth to the Moon has Michel Ardan in a similar role, balancing the other two serious protagonists with his laid back attitude.
  • In In Desert And Wilderness, Kali, mostly due to Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle - he seems much more serious among his own people.
  • In The Dragon Hoard, Prince Sillius plays this role among the questing princes.
  • In The Hearts We Sold James takes this role In-Universe, taking it upon himself to crack jokes in awkward or tense situations. This is important for two reasons: first, it makes James seem approachable and trustworthy to newcomers, and second, it keeps everyone from going insane due to stress.
  • Marco of Animorphs starts out as the team smartass, especially given that he's the one member of the team who wants nothing to do the fight against the Yeerk invasion. However, as the series continues and the war starts to wear on the team, Marco becomes progressively more cynical and calculating - to the point that his Sad Clown antics barely seem to be keeping him sane.
  • Teen Power Inc.: Tom is written to be more goofy than his friends due to his moments of immaturity and some of the silly sketches he draws.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Small Man. His Lovable Coward ways, gambling, and womanizing will be more irritating than funny, but he will still manage to help save the world in some small way.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Puppet Shows 
  • Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons: Chin Chia-hsien and Yin Shih-jen, with a Laurel and Hardy type of slapstick. Notwithstanding, both have a fairly big impact on the plot by way of sharing messages, manipulating enemies of the Tiger Generals, and otherwise being good allies.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice, who was written in specifically as "the Clown." His life offstage is referred to (he's got a family and a mistress), but onstage he's mostly there to give overdramatic monologues, spew puns and complain about how converting Jews to Christianity will raise the price of pork. Gratiano qualifies, too.
  • Sir Ké in La Légende du Roi Arthur whose questions are a source of bemusement and irritation for Merlin but commedy gold to the audience.

    • This seems to be the most common personality type for Toa of Air, as seen with Lewa, Matau and Kongu. Each is a Deadpan Snarker and a bit of a klutz who provide many of the funny moments throughout the story. Kongu actually invokes this trope because of Lewa, having been a rather serious Matoran before the Toa Nuva of Air showed him how to lift spirits with a little humour.
    • Pohatu, one of the less serious Toa Nuva alongside Lewa, also has a poignant sense of humor, though this is a secondary trait compared to his friendliness.

    Video Games 
  • Although Teddie from Persona 4 is this, every other character in the Investigation Team fulfill this role at some point or another in the game. Yosuke also relates to this trope, although really more towards the beginning and before Character Development takes hold.
  • Portal 2 subverts this with Wheatley, a moronic personality core who escorts the player through the early areas of the game and, with your help, attempts to engineer a coup against GLaDOS. The subversion comes when Wheatley, upon successfully replacing GLaDOS in the Enrichment Center mainframe, goes into full A God Am I mode and becomes the Big Bad of the game. Portal 2 has fairly equal distribution of comedy, but Portal 1 arguably has GLaDOS carrying all the comic responsibility. However, this can probably be excused as she is the only speaking character.
  • Since Divergent Character Evolution turned him into a Lovable Coward, Luigi tends to fill this role in the Super Mario Bros. games, especially in the Mario & Luigi series.
  • Joker from Mass Effect takes the role first as a Disabled Snarker but eventually becomes a straight example as he loosens up around the crew and learns he does not have to constantly prove himself like he did in flight school because of his disease. He becomes a Plucky Comic Relief character almost exclusively with only occasional moments of snarkiness by the second game.
  • Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins is an interesting case in that he is also well aware of how dreadful the situation is and what all is at stake, and is very competent when the situation calls for it.
  • Tyrell in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. Emphasis on the "plucky".
  • The janitor from the Carol Reed Mysteries. Most of the time he isn't connected to the cases, he's mainly there to make the player laugh every once in a while.
  • Siegmeyer from Dark Souls, a bumbling knight who became Undead and ventured to Lordran for one last adventure. The player runs into him in various situations, where he's nearly always in quite a pickle.
  • The Black Baron (stop starin') from MadWorld is an overly stereotypical pimp who acts as a living demonstration for all the minigames, and every moment he appears is a moment of hilarity. Even when it turns out he's the Final Boss, his reactions and stagger animations are so goofy that you can't help but laugh through all of it.
    • His Anarchy Reigns counterpart The Blacker Baron reprises the role, and arguably fits it better since he's the walking moment of funny in a game that is usually quite serious, unlike Madworld which just a hilarious game all around.
  • Dion from Tears to Tiara 2, with his cowardness and every-failing quest to get girls.
  • Chuck from Angry Birds as well as his exported female counterpart, Poppy, from Angry Birds Stella.
  • If it wasn't for Joe Barbaro, Mafia II would be an even darker game than it already is.
  • Hiravias from Pillars of Eternity. With the possible exception of the Player Character, only Edér matches him in the frequency of the jokes. And while Edér's jests tend to be Gallows Humor or otherwise bleak, Hiravias' jokes tend to be dirty, lewd, and absurd.
  • Axl Low, the sweet-hearted British time-traveller of the Guilty Gear games has very few ties with any of the characters or occurring conflicts of the story and is really just there to lighten the mood, between his banter with Sol Badguy and his flirting with I-no. His even lampshades this if he falls victim to Faust's Kanchou move.
  • Pungeon Master Gavrielle in Telepath Tactics manages to remain chipper throughout the whole campaign even if her brother dies. (She doesn't take the death itself well, though).
  • Uncle from Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption II, a drunken old man who often complains about his terminal lumbago.
  • Downplayed in God of War (PS4) but Atreus as the Deuteragonist plays this role for some levity throughout the game. These moments aren't merely played for comedy's sake but to also provide Kratos opportunities to mellow out and develop his fatherly instincts. This is best demonstrated when Kratos decides to finally reveal to Atreus his divine heritage, only to be surprised when the first thing Atreus asks is if he can transform into an animal.
  • While all characters in Undertale are funny in their own right, Sans and Papyrus, two skeleton brothers and the main NPC's of Snowdin, are definitely the game's primary comic relief. They're constantly teasing eachother, the puzzles they set up all fail to stop you in hilarious ways, and Sans keeps making really bad puns, which Papyrus keeps getting annoyed at. But, given that Undertale is a Deconstructor Fleet, their funny personalities are likely just there to hide their personal issues. Papyrus uses his loud, confident personality to hide his low self-esteem, while Sans uses his jokey, laid-back demeanor to hide his depression. Also, doing a Genocide Run leads Papyrus to try and reform you with kindness, and Sans to give you the hardest bossfight in the entire game, during which he reveals his knowledge of timelines and your ability to save, load and reset.
  • In Darkest Dungeon, the Jester naturally fills this role as he makes several wisecracks now and then. This trope then becomes Deconstructed if he gains an affliction as he truly begins to see the hopelessness of the situation and his jokes (what little are left) begin to take a very spiteful and hateful tone that begin to stress out other party members instead of cheering them up.
  • Love of Magic: Discussed; when trying to convince Dylan that he's not going to die, MC tells him that "Humorous sidekicks are immortal." However, Dylan isn't really an example himself; if anyone is, it's Molly.

    Visual Novels 
  • Henry from Double Homework can always be counted on to get a laugh out of the player due to his surreal stupidity and complete cluelessness.
  • Konomi Yanase in Princess Evangile is pretty much the only main character who's scenes almost completely consist of comedic moments, with nary a tragic backstory or tearjerking moment in-between.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, Maruhashi's ineffectualness combined with his earnest devotion to Seiji makes for some light-hearted moments. In the Kubitarou case, this makes his death all the more depressing.
  • Fate/Grand Order: If a Servant is introduced in a gag/jokey event (particularly the Gudaguda, Summer, Halloween and Christmas events), chances are they're this. Even if some of them can be serious, they're often underscored with their more funny behavior and/or being the butt of jokes. Many of those Servants are variants of existing, non-gag Servants, and they're played in more lighthearted ways. Despite all that, most of them are powerful fighters in their own right.

  • Pintsize (alone or teamed up with Winslow) in Questionable Content.
  • Homestuck's Wayward Vagabond. Ironic, when you consider his backstory.
  • Rain: Rudy Strongwell is the most overtly comedic member in the main cast and at first seems to be there just to provide the comic laughs with his sassy and energetic Camp Gay attitude. This is Deconstructed once we get to know more about him, as we find out that his humorous tendancies and jokes are really just a way for him to cope with being descriminated against by his parents and certain classmates for his sexuality.

    Web Original 
  • A lot of them in the Whateley Universe. The junior high mages known as 'the three little witches', Go-Go (a speedster who used to go by 'Quickie' until she found out why everyone was laughing), Generator. Oh God, Generator. Wacky comic relief in other people's stories, horrifyingly effective hero in her own stories. There are school armbands that identify the pacifists (who won't fight back if they're bullied so you're supposed to leave them alone) and the Ultraviolents (Exactly What It Says on the Tin). Only Generator wears both. Not at the same time; that would be silly. She flips a coin every morning.
  • In The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air), Julian the Janitor desperately wants to take on the role of a wacky, drop-in character in the eponymous radio Variety Show that broadcasts where he works. His engineered attempts to be Pushed in Front of the Audience don't help, as his personal Interactive Narrator points out:
    Julian: All those old radio shows like Jack Benny, they all had these crazy characters who'd come crashing in, and everybody would laugh, and...and applaud.
    Narrator: Yes, but those things were planned, those people were actors, they were-
    Julian: I know...funny.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Andy loves being the jokester of the group, and making jokes is pretty much all he does.
  • Escape the Night: In the first season, which was generally Darker and Edgier then other seasons, Timothy and GloZell are a big source of comedy. In the first few episodes, GloZell was the main source, but after she Took a Level in Jerkass, Timothy took over the role.
  • SMG4: While yes, this show is a comedy, with the recent Cerebus Syndrome the series has faced, Swag and Chris have been this, specifically in the Anime and Genesis arcs.

    Western Animation 
  • Beast Boy from Teen Titans (2003). Oh-so-very-much. Now with 100% more lampshade!
    Beast Boy: [being dragged into the dark] What did I tell you? Funny guy goes fiiiiirst!
  • Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender is this, while also being The Smart Guy and The Field Leader. Also, Momo's role is usually to lighten things up.
  • In the classic Warner Bros. cartoon "Drip-Along Daffy," Daffy Duck is the supposed western hero, while Porky Pig is explicitly called the "comedy relief", dressed in a Gabby-Hayes sidekick outfit. As is the standard, Porky is leagues more competent than Daffy, and ends up defeating the villain and being appointed sheriff. Meanwhile, Daffy goes into trash collecting.
  • Porky's character from Daffy's Duck Dodgers cartoon and series, Eager Young Space Cadet, is also supposed to be this.
  • Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible, while also being one of The Heroes of the show, though he's typically in a sidekick role.
  • The Flash in Justice League. Considering his death sparked a totalitarian dictatorship in another universe and nearly caused the apocalypse in the regular one, his angstlessness plays a very important role in keeping the Justice League from going off the deep end.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: While it's hard to find a character that isn't comic relief, Cosmo is hands-down pluckier comic reliefier.
  • Parodied in Titan Maximum, where it's stated that each military squad are required to consist of one of these. The one shown is woefully aware that he's unfunny since he originally just wanted a desk job.
  • Luan from The Loud House basically invokes it. She is an aspiring comedian who is always cracking jokes
  • Jester in Jane and the Dragon, because it is quite literally his job. As such, he can still be serious when he wants to.

Alternative Title(s): The Funny Guy