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The Quarterback

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He's like the boss you can have a drink with.

You're a goddamn quarterback! You know what that means? It's the top spot, kid. It's the guy who takes the fall. It's the guy everybody's looking at first — the leader of a team who will support you when they understand you. Who will break their ribs and their noses and their necks for you, because they believe. 'Cause you make them believe. That's a quarterback.
Tony D'Amato, Any Given Sunday

Have you seen the High School? Then you'll have definitely noticed this guy. He's the de facto captain of the football team and, per rules of the American education system, is a pretty big deal. This is the Quarterback, the moral, heroic, leader with a good arm.

He will always go around wearing his jersey/letterman/varsity jacket, most likely carrying a football, and surrounded by other members of his team. In this department he is a talented, authoritative, motivational, and charismatic leader. He's probably on a first-name basis with the entire PE department staff and has a bit of influence on them.

So, his potential to be a Jerk Jock is pretty high, right? The occasional work will do this, but more often than not he's actually a Nice Guy. There's a good chance he'll start out as an unfavorable guy before Character Development kicks in and he becomes a friend, or at least an ally, but in quite a significant number of works he will start as The Heart of the team.

If he starts as part of the protagonist gang he will likely be The Lancer, or possibly The Big Guy if The Hero already found one that's not a jock. If he begins as antagonistic then he will likely try to redeem himself for his past sins with a big, dramatic, day-saving gesture.

Regardless, he will likely be pretty popular — and is probably dating the Cruel Cheerleader, Pom-Pom Girl, or Lovable Alpha Bitch — though this may diminish when he swaps out being a bully for helping the nerdy hero. He may also not be the brightest of sparks, but has his good intentions.

Compare and Contrast with elements of the Jerk Jock.

See also: Big Man on Campus, The All-American Boy and Lovable Jock. The equivalent in Japanese Media is the Kendo Team Captain.

For information on the Real Life quarterback position, please see American Football. For famous examples of real professional quarterbacks, see National Football League Quarterbacks.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Eyeshield 21 is of course full of them, however it's treated more as position like any others so not all of them fit the tropes associated with it, they are usually going to be The Smart Guy or The Leader of the team. Kid is the best example of the cool Lovable Jock type that every one cheers but too humble to accept it while Agon is the Jerk Jock to sociopathic degree who is not above beating his teammates or force school and coach to accommodate is sleazy lifestyle. The main quarterback of the story, Hiruma, looks and behaves like a demon in how he can manipulate people and situations to his advantage, making him a very fearsome opponent. Despite that, he's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who does care about his teammates, even if he works them to the bone.

    Comic Books 
  • Robin: The arrogant Karl Ranck is the quarterback at Tim's high school during Tim's freshman year. He is abrasive and self centered, though not actually a bully, and ends up getting murdered before the school year is up.
  • Judge Dredd's clone father and Mega City One's first Chief Judge, Eustace Fargo, was the quarterback for Jaxville High School. He was good enough to be considered for the NFL, but he chose to go to law school instead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Faculty: Stan is the star player and fond friend to the school, having some troubles with his cheerleader girlfriend when he chooses to quit the team in order to get better grades. Coach supports him in this choice, even if it is right before the big match.
  • I Am Number Four: Mark is originally a bit of a jerk, who has no issue with the regular students but does have a grudge against Sam — a nerd who does stand up to him and believes in aliens — and John — who is dating his ex-girlfriend. By the end, though, he is incorporated into their gang, helping to keep secrets and evade police etc.
  • Quarterback Princess: The made-for-TV movie from 1983 has teenager Tami Maida and her family move to Oregon, and Tami try out for the school football team. Despite initial resistance, she gets a chance to play, and enjoys much better pass protection than the primary male quarterback. Her team even chips in to buy Tami a very nice prom dress.
  • A Cinderella Story has Austin Ames, whom the protagonist was in her anonymous e-mail relationship with. Ames was the star quarterback dating the head cheerleader and resident Alpha Bitch, and was on the verge of being offered a full ride by the University of Southern California until the end, where he leaves the big game early, choosing to go to Princeton with Sam instead.
  • Dazed and Confused has Randy 'Pink' Floyd who, however, is a pretty nice guy and friendly to all factions in his high school, including the nerdy intellectuals.
  • Wolves: At the start of the film, Cayden is the high school quarterback "in a town where football is the one true religion." Life is good for him before the werewolf stuff starts. It's not clear if he's a Jerk Jock (he seems this way, but that could be the aforementioned werewolf stuff).

  • In F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story The Bowl, Dolly Harlan plays this role quite straight, nearly to the point of Heroic Sacrifice. (Technically he's a Princeton's halfback, though.)
  • Harry Potter: Non-football version with Cedric Diggory, the Hufflepuff Quidditch Captain and Seeker in the third book. He's handsome, kind, courageous enough to volunteer for the Triwizard Tournament (and skilled enough to become the Hogwarts champion), a good enough sportsman that he tries to get a rematch after dementors invade the field and knock Harry out, and eventually, a Sacrificial Lion. By contrast, the other Captains we see are either Slytherins (who embody Unnecessary Roughness and cheat as if their lives depended on it) and Gryffindors Oliver Wood, (for whom Quidditch is Serious Business to the point that he doesn't mind that Harry's broomstick might be cursed if it gets them the Cup), and Harry himself. Turned on its head in The Cursed Child, where Albus and Scorpius' efforts to save Cedric's life result in his humiliating defeat, culminating in his becoming a Death Eater and murdering Neville, leading to the Bad Future.
    Dumbledore: Cedric Diggory was, as you all know, exceptionally hard working, infinitely fair-minded, and most importantly, a fierce, fierce friend.
  • Boy Meets Boy has a gender-inverted version with Infinite Darlene, the trans girl who is quarterback both before and after her transition.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friday Night Lights:
    • Jason Street — Talented and beloved player with a promising career before he becomes paralysed, dating possibly the only nice cheerleader in school, who is also his coach's daughter, and still rallies school spirit whilst becoming humble.
    • Matt Saracen — originally QB 2, and many doubted his abilities as a leader upon promotion because of his sweet personality. However, he proved to be both a commanding leader of the team with skills improving through S1, and a good leader among friends. Still, its running back Smash Williams who tends to be the team's emotional leader, with Matt being more of The Lancer.
  • Glee:
    • Finn "The Quarterback" Hudson, and to a lesser extent Sam. Finn is the well-respected QB, who has the loyalty of his team enough to get them to join the glee club, and with the help of Sam, Santana, and Bieste reforms them to not bully people. He was also decent enough in the beginning to not actually partake in the terrorizing of students that his teammates did, and lets them prepare for the standard bullying he approves of. Confident and truthful enough to dump his Alpha Bitch cheerleader girlfriend for one of the school "losers", and after a couple of seasons manages to regain his status. Rallies the football team, the glee club, and the school.
    • Discussed in season 6 when Spencer wants to be starting QB, and Sam wants him to show he can make a stand before he'll give him the position, so gives him a Rousing Speech:
      Spencer: Well, now that Beiste is gone and you're coach, I assumed I'm gonna be starting QB, so I got to be ready, right?
      Sam: Yeah, um, actually, I kind of changed my mind about that. [...] You got the arm for it, but, uh, quarterbacks are leaders, not cowards. [...] Look, man. Every movement needs a leader, someone to step out in the light and say, "Hey, this is me. This is who I am, and this is what I stand for." Look, I get it, high school is tough, but you can do this, and they will lose their judgment as soon as you lose yours. I got your back here, dude — And that guy right there, Finn, was one of my best friends, and he was the quarterback here, and when he joined the glee club, it changed everything here forever. Pick up where he left off, and it'll be the best thing that's ever happened to you.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze: Shun Daimonji, the school's star quarterback. He starts off as a Jerk Jock taken to such an extreme that he even interferes with Fourze defeating the Monster of the Week because of a grudge with the titular Kamen Rider. Later, though, he owns up to his Freudian Excuse (a controlling, perfectionist father) and works toward becoming a better person. He even joins the Kamen Rider Club, and assists Fourze in battle by piloting the Power Dizer.
  • Queer as Folk: (US version) Drew Boyd, who was kicked off the team after kissing his boyfriend, but was reinstated when the team realised how valuable he was to them.
  • Rise (2018): Robbie. In the pilot he gets blackmailed to audition for drama club and then has to make a choice between football and the musical. After talking to his mom and doing some soul-searching, he picks drama.
  • Smallville: As Clark was the quarterback, the occasional episode has him dealing with the team. He is proficient enough to get a college scholarship offer, as well as translating some of Superman's bravado to leading in high school.
    • During the first season, this was instead applied to Whitney Fordman, the Smallville High quarterback who was being offered a scholarship to Kansas State, who starts off seeming like a regular jerk and playing a horrendous prank on Clark, but by the end of the season has become much more nice and sympathetic.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Jack Pappas, besides being a serial womanizer (and occasional man-izer), has a heart of gold and is close with a lot of people in school, though his main character trait is "being the quarterback".
  • Twin Peaks: Zig-zagged. Bobby Briggs is the handsome quarterback of the highschool football team, the Big Man on Campus who's dating the popular blonde head cheerleader, and the son of an honorable, All-American military man. Twin Peaks being the Town with a Dark Secret that it is, this is subverted early on, as Bobby is quickly revealed to be cheating on his girlfriend, involved in some shady criminal conspiracies, and is even suspected in his girlfriend's murder. Much of Bobby's character arc, particularly in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, is about him being torn between being the leather-clad bad boy all the girls seem to want and his much more innocent quarterback heart.

  • Taylor Swift uses this character as the set-up love interest in some songs, including the boy in the "You Belong with Me" music video. He's her cute neighbor and down-to-earth quarterback, and is also secretly in love with her even though dating the Alpha Bitch.

    Western Animation