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The Chew Toy

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Chuck just can't catch a break.

"Why universe hate Waspinator?"
Waspinator, Beast Wars, bemoaning his habit of being blown up Once per Episode

An odd sort of polar opposite to The Woobie, The Chew Toy is a character the audience loves specifically because their misery amuses them so. The Chew Toy is roughed up or messed with on a constant basis... and is always, always used for comic effect and treated with a light touch, generally glossing over the meaner undertones of the idea.

Whatever the reason is, these characters just can't catch a break. Did they do something wrong in a previous life? This life? Or are they just Innocent Bystanders who look as if they'd blow up in a more amusing manner than anyone else in the crowd? Who knows. Either way, the powers that be tend to inflict punishment on them for seemingly no reason, generally but not always of the slapstick physical variety.

Unlike Woobification, Chew Toys are generally designated as such in the series proper, and often have a tendency to bemoan their fate. If they're lucky, the writers will Throw the Dog a Bone a time or two. If they're unlucky, they'll Yank the Dog's Chain. It can sometimes be a delicate balance. Throw too often and the character can be Flanderized into The Eeyore; Yank too much and the audience may no longer find it funny. The latter will happen mostly if the character is both deliberately and unfairly mistreated by other characters.

Compare Butt-Monkey (a character who is mistreated regardless of audience opinion), The Eeyore (whose depression is usually in excess of their actual mistreatment) and Iron Butt-Monkey (who seems to suffer injury and accidents more frequently than anyone should, but is capable of taking it). Contrast The Woobie, whose suffering inspires sympathy and a desire to make things better for them instead of amusement.note  The polar opposite is Karma Houdini, where characters do horrible things while karma (and occasionally the other characters) sits back, watches, and eats popcorn. Villains and Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists, though, do make good Chew Toys as they bring the bad stuff on themselves. Also by making it a self-inflicted role (most often because of a character's stupidity and short-sightedness) it also makes the torment more palatable.

If the entire cast is made up of Chew Toys of some kind or another, then you're probably watching a Sadist Show. Compare Hellistics (when unrelated events turn out to be connected with each other just to screw over the character) and Humiliation Conga.

No Real Life Examples, Please!. While life can certainly suck at times, nobody exists solely to suffer. Also, while someone’s suffering may be funny in fiction, that’s obviously not the case for Real Life, thus, there are no examples to be found.

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Other examples

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  • In the mid-'90s, Pizza Hut had "The Pizza Head Show", starring their mascot at the time, Pizza Head. Pizza Head was an Expy of Saturday Night Live's Mr. Bill (the commercials were, in fact, done by Mr. Bill creator Walter Williams), and had a nemesis in the pizza cutter Steve, an Expy of Mr. Sluggo, who always had it in for him. Typical plots had Steve in his latest role (chef, doctor, superhero, umpire, what have you) showing up to screw Pizza Head over in some fashion, with Pizza Head frequently saying "Hey, he's not a <insert role here>!" to which the announcer would always say "Sure he is!"
  • Jim Henson's famous Wilkins Coffee ad campaign had Wontkins, who would suffer all sorts of over-the-top Amusing Injuries all because he doesn't like Wilkins Coffee.


    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering
    • The goblins; regardless of whatever world, goblins are always on the short end of the stick. In a twist they can actually be used to devastating effect in the game.
    • Squee in particular deserves an honorable mention. He was stuck in a cycle of dying horribly, and then mysteriously coming back to life, just so he could die horribly again. Hell, the usefulness of his in-game card revolved around the fact that it could be discarded/sacrificed/chewed-on over and over, turn after turn.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts: Charlie Brown is the absolute king of this trope. For fifty years the entire universe tried new and creative ways to mess with him.
    Charlie Brown: Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask: "Why me?" And a voice answers: "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up."
  • Jon Arbuckle of Garfield is practically the adult Charlie Brown.
    Jon: You wouldn't believe what happened to me! I went out to get the paper, and my robe got caught on a passing street sweeper. I swept five neighborhoods with my FACE before I could get the driver's attention. It took three fire companies and a crowbar to get me loose. I'm lucky to be alive... What happened to my muffin?
    Garfield: I ate it, vac-boy. Where's the paper?
  • The title character of Australian comic Snake. The plots of typical strips include: Snake tells a bad joke and gets smashed under his own rock; Snake fails to get anywhere with Lady Snake and gets smashed under his own rock; Snake is randomly abused by tourists and gets smashed under his own rock; Snake gets a package airmail that smashes him into a pulp, but for a change isn't smashed under his own rock; and the list goes on.
  • The titular character of Nodwick: How many horrible deaths does a man henchman have to suffer to get a little respect around here?

    Fan Works 
  • A Growing Affection makes Sasuke into this. He gets mind controlled by the Blood Drinker Demon, and has to be rescued by Naruto. He manages to beat Orochimaru, but that turns out to be all part of Orochimaru's plan. He goes after Itachi, only to be defeated and get his team killed by Kisame. He lets Ororchimaru take over his body in return for Orochimaru killing Itachi. Except that during the fight Orochimaru manipulates it so Sasuke learns the truth about Itachi and the Uchiha slaughter (different from canon) rendering everything Sasuke has done pointless. Finally, Sasuke sacrifices himself to give Naruto a chance to finish Orochimaru.
  • In Retro Chill, Bob serves as this while serving Retro and the aliens. This is why he pulls a Heel–Face Turn later on.
  • Adahn (Legion in this universe) throughout the first act of Avatar of Victory; whenever it tries to contact Shepard and her team, it always ends with it getting shot and having to repair itself with whatever clutter is nearby.
  • Connie d'Amico in the Meg's Family Series as it went on. Of note is "Oh My God! We Killed Connie!" where she is attacked by bees, leeches, and other things to the point that she appears to be dead, and is repeatedly hit by Meg or Zack (and in one instance Lois) while they think she actually is dead.
  • Gory Toons is basically Happy Tree Friends but the woodland creatures replaced with animated Toons, meaning almost everyone is a victim of this trope, although Cuddles and Kirby tend to take the most damage, if only because they appear the most.
  • Just like in canon, Skoodge is this in The New Adventures of Invader Zim. Something bad happens to him at least once a chapter.
  • This Bites!: Between bites to the ear, strangulation, broken noses, Groin Attacks (usually from Vivi) and Zoro's Training from Hell, Cross and physical abuse are very well-acquainted. It doesn't help that he loves intentionally riling other people up with pranks or otherwise putting them into situations that have them immediately swear vengeance on the guy even long before he physically meets them, setting up a long, long line of people who want to kick his ass.
  • All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird has "Jim," which is what fans have named the hapless scout in Dragon Age: Inquisition who interrupts Commander Cullen at a very important moment. In the fic, he not only interrupts that moment, but then goes on to interrupt a number of other private scenes throughout Skyhold - much to the amusement of the people to whom he relates his misadventures.
  • A Shadow of the Titans has the minor HIVE student called "Evil Dick", who seems to exist only to get his ass kicked. In his first appearance, he ticks off Gadjo, who puts him in a full body cast. In his second, he's easily removed from the Titans' rematch with Super Jinx by Cyborg, who doesn't even remember his name. His third appearance is basically an afterthought to the scene he's in, and you can guess how it works out for him. Even his Not-So-Harmless Villain moment in a later chapter shows shades of this, as his motives are shown to be completely laughable, and he's defeated because his Doomsday Device literally gets its plug pulled.
  • Roi is turned into an Iron Butt Monkey in pretty much every Escape the Night fan work. His tendency to be The Klutz and his usual Leeroy Jenkins tactics are taken to the point where pretty much nothing ever goes good for him, and he's always Played for Laughs.
  • Equestria Girls: A Fairly Odd Friendship: Crocker. Every single one of his plans blows up in his face, and usually results in bodily harm for him.

  • In his career as keyboardist for Rammstein, Christian "Flake" Lorenz has played a suicide bomber, played a suicide jumper, played a hermaphrodite, was electrocuted, abandoned at his spot, cooked, sodomized and made to walk on a treadmill. Though this is a case of mileage varying, some still see him as The Woobie.
  • In the Twisted Sister videos for "I Wanna Rock" and "We're not Gonna Take It," Mark Metcalf is repeatedly abused in a Wile E. Coyote-like fashion: repeatedly tossed through windows, diving onto wet cement, getting launched through a basketball hoop, and getting dynamite blown up in his face. The videos do set it up so that he deserves what he gets.

  • In Humpty Dumpty, the titular character is pushed off of the wall to entertain the other characters.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • To say that 2012 was a bad year for John Cena would be an understatement.
    • He was terrorized by Kane for the first part of the year, being forced to helplessly watch his best bud Zack Ryder be made an example of, then he lost his WrestleMania match with The Rock due to him trying to beat Rocky at his own game when he could have won the match otherwise, then the next night on RAW, when calling out The Rock to congratulate him for his victory he was laid out by a returning Brock Lesnar.
    • And after his hellacious match with Lesnar, the next night he comes out with his arm in a cast, saying his arm was severely strained but not broken. Laurinitis comes out, saying he'll announce who Cena's opponent is at the next PPV. Cue Lord Tensai's music. When Tensai and his mook surround Cena, John Laurinaitis brains him from behind with the microphone. He announces that he'll be his opponent and then the three proceed to slaughter him, including wrapping his injured arm around a post and slamming it between a chair and the steps.
    • And then when he finally does get his hands on Laurinaitis, he loses that match because of The Big Show's betrayal, and gets knocked unconscious that night and the night after.
    • Then, when he finally finds some success with winning the Money in the Bank contract, he challenges CM Punk outright, as expected ... only to have Big Show attack him, thus be credited as the only MitB winner not to win the championship despite winning the match by DQ.
    • Has another incredible match with CM Punk, and finally manages to put him down with a top rope German Suplex. However, maybe due to having never done the move before, he doesn't do a complete bridge during pin, and thus is counted down as well, resulting in a draw and the championship remaining with Punk.
    • He's given another shot at a MitB briefcase in a ladder match vs. Dolph Ziggler... only to have AJ turn on him and cost him the match.
    • Extends to his personal life. Especially for a man known for his durability and recovery time, he's been injured frequently, including spraining his ankle so that it swelled to twice it size and an elbow injury that made him unable to compete at Hell in the Cell. Add to that a costly and drawn-out home renovation leading to some marital strife, and... Yeah, the guy's having a rough year.
    • He even admits that "2012 was not his year" in one of his last promos before the year ended. But he promised to make 2013 his year, and it got off to a good start, being the Royal Rumble Winner, and he did beat The Rock for the WWE Championship at WM 29. But then he got Triple-Powerbombed by The Shield... so maybe not..
  • Zack Ryder seems to have been reduced to this as well in recent times, as he has been getting repeatedly pummeled by Kane, humiliated and used by a scheming EveTorres, and jobbing to wrestlers who are less popular than him (usually after a crowd-pleasing Broski Boot and a failed attempt to pull off a Rough Ryder).
    • He finally gets his revenge on the 7/3/2012 edition of Super Smackdown, by eliminating Kane from the battle royal and throwing punch on Eve.
  • Seth Rollins became this in 2015, as WWE World Heavyweight Champion no less. He's hated by every other main-eventer on the show, gets his ass kicked and pinned on RAW way more than he should, and gets humiliated rather frequently. However, considering how much of a coward and a snake he's been since he stabbed the rest of The Shield in the back and turned heel, including the manner in which he won the title in the first place, a lot of it he deserved it.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fat-Blue/Mr. Johnson in Sesame Street. Whether or not Grover is taking his order, he has bad luck at restaurants.
  • The Muppet Show:
    • Beaker was brought in as a lab assistant for Dr Bunsen Honeydew to test his inventions on. They invariably went wrong. Over time he began to be used in more skits outside of Muppet Labs, which usually also involved him getting hurt somehow, even if he was the only one taking part in the skit. He seems to be one of the more popular Muppets, judging by how frequently he is used (and tormented) in the YouTube videos that The Muppets Studio are currently producing.
    • Bean Bunny often finds himself squished between a wall and an opening door or having piles of props crash on top of him. Word of God has it that it's become something of a Break the Cutie running gag on the set of Muppet productions.

  • Bluebottle of The Goon Show, perhaps the ultimate canonical Chew Toy. "You rotten swine! You have deaded me again! Look, my beautiful nut is all singed!"
  • Gerard Hoffnung's "Bricklayer's Lament" monologue, turned into a song called "The Sick Note": a bricklayer falls off a fourteen-story building, suffering numerous amusing injuries along the way.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Necrons have been going through a phase of Chew Toy status, amusing and pleasing some players to no end.
    • The Sisters of Battle are like this to Games Workshop. In almost every piece of fluff they appear in they get killed and mutilated in horrendous and increasing pointless ways. While martyrdom is a theme of the Sisters, it has become overdone.
      • It has been overdone so much that quite a few of Games Workshop's writers, including Matt Ward, have been accused of misogyny.
    • There's also the Imperial Guard. While they do have their moments, they are usually the ones who suffer the worse ends of everything the Imperium encounters and die by the billions in every possible outcome in the universe can throw at. Indeed, this tendency is commonly what endears them to their fans, as it underlines the Guard's bravery.
      • Forgeworld's Elysian regiments are subject to this: they've lost every battle they appeared in (three Imperial Armour books so far) and have also suffered disaster in at least one Black Library novel.
      • Even more so, PDF. Justified by the fact that stories about PDF doing their job and annihilating the invader by themselves are barely exciting, despite being rather frequent in-universe.
    • You need to show how cool is this new special character is? Make him kill an Avatar. Seriously, in 6th edition Eldar lost every single battle in all codices. Including their own.
  • Brave/foolish/insane players can do this to their own characters with the right disadvantage in many game systems:
    • GURPS has Unluckiness, and then Cursed for those who really want to get it.
    • Humorously, one available in some older rulebooks is Jinxed, which turns everyone but the afflicted character into one while in their presence. For obvious reasons, it has been removed now.
    • Fantasy Flight's 40K roleplaying games usually have some variant disadvantage that does this to characters — Only War has "Doomed," which can wreck an entire regiment's life.
    • The gretchin's main purpose in life is to suffer Amusing Injuries or Yet Another Stupid Death at the hands of their ork masters or the enemy, being variously used as slave labor, emergency rations, and ammo (or all three).
  • Promethean: The Created has the titular Prometheans. It's hard to have a normal life when the universe literally hates you for existing.

  • Ko-Ko in The Mikado. His hilarious miseries, in order of appearance: getting thrown in prison for flirting, being ordered to cut off his own head unless he can find someone willing to die in his place; having someone offer to die only on the condition of spending a month married to his fiancée first; ending up feeling so sorry for the substitute that he allows him to elope with the fiancée; getting sentenced to a slow death involving boiling oil, and finally having to marry the hideous, bloodthirsty Katisha in order to save his own hide.


    Visual Novels 
  • Clara in ghostpia is belittled, demeaned, maimed, killed, or some combination of the above in every scene she appears in. Fortunately for her, Death Is Cheap and she never loses her sunny disposition regardless of how much of a beating she's taken.
  • Grisaia Series: Michiru. She is always falling or getting dirt in embarrassing situations; sometimes it's unconsciously, other times it's on purpose. As for those instances when she embarrasses herself on purpose, she does so because making the others laugh is the way she feels worthy to live.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Rosa gets the worst of this. The only time she's made it past the second twilight was EP2. And frankly, dying horribly is probably an improvement over what she goes through in some of the other arcs, especially EP4, when Maria kills her over and over again with magic in the most painful ways she can think of as a horrific version of Calling the Old Man Out. Unlike Satoko, it is very difficult to see her as a complete The Woobie, at least at the beginning of the story given her relationship with her daughter.
  • Sekai Saionji from School Days tends to be the one getting the short end of the stick in the bad endings.

    Web Animation 
  • SMG4: Luigi and Toad, although Luigi is the one being most mistreated by the cast.
  • Happy Tree Friends. EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. Except Splendid ( so far he's only died once), Cro-Marmot (with his ice block acting as a shield), and Buddhist Monkey (who never even died yet).
    • Though in Fliqpy and (to a lesser extent) Lumpy's case, they might deserve it to the eyes of some fans (however, Flippy is adored by the fanbase, so you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hates him).
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Strong Sad is continually put upon by the other characters, who seem to find something repugnant in his odd physical build and unceasing pessimism.
    • Although you can occasionally predict how things will swing in a given situation, all the characters are Chew Toys now and again, based mostly on the Rule of Funny; the abuse goes to whoever it's funniest to abuse for this cartoon.
  • Melony in Object Overload dies at least once in every episode except "A Shocking Addition."
  • Thomas Timberwolf from TimberWolf created by Chuck Jones due to the fact whenever he says and/or shouts "Timber", he keeps getting hit by trees.
  • Confinement stars a man named Connor with Resurrective Immortality who is a prisoner of the SCP Foundation. They use him as a test subject for all kinds of deadly experiments since he cannot die no matter what happens to him. He has been killed multiple times by a mutant cannibal, killed by a song that causes plants and fungus to grow and mutate and then turned into a log, eaten by a prehistoric sea monster, baked into a living gingerbread man and then eaten, killed multiple times by a magic sword, eaten by a giant lizard, killed multiple times by a robot that wanted to steal his body, turned into a frog and tortured, and more. Having been a prisoner all of his life he's gotten used to all this.
  • The Amazing Digital Circus: Pomni and the five other souls she’s trapped with are tortured by Caine with no release, not even death can save them. Despite how horrific this sounds, it’s all Played for Laughs.
  • Cute Mario Bros: Everyone loves seeing Jack Skellington suffer.

Alternative Title(s): Chew Toy



Waspinator is pretty much living proof that it's not easy being green.

How well does it match the trope?

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