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Took a Level in Jerkass

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I used to be such a sweet sweet thing 'til they got a hold of me.
I opened doors for little old ladies. I helped the blind to see.
I got no friends 'cause they read the papers. They can't be seen
With me, and I'm gettin' real shot down and I'm feeling mean.
Alice Cooper, "No More Mr. Nice Guy"

When a character grows into a jerkass over time (sometimes not much of it at all). Can be due to flanderization, a Face–Heel Turn, or just another regular albeit unfortunate case of Character Development, which depends on who's writing said character(s). While a Jerkass growing into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold is a common phenomenon, especially in dramas, a reversal, resulting in this trope, is also common, especially in comedies.

This can also cause tropes like What the Hell, Hero?, though whether the character changes back to their kind-hearted ways, again, it usually depends on the writer. If the transition is shown as a flashback regarding a known jerk/villain, it may be a Start of Darkness.

See also Took a Level in Badass, Took a Level in Dumbass, Cynicism Catalyst and Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. When this happens to a character temporarily for the sake of the plot, the Jerkass Ball is present. The Counter Trope to Took a Level in Kindness. Contrast Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, who was always a jerk. A character taking his/her level in jerkassitude was genuinely nice. When a character becomes more of a jerk in an adaptation, that's Adaptational Jerkass.


     Professional Wrestling 
  • Edge took several levels of jerkass on Monday Night Raw when it became clear the crowds were getting sick of him. Now if only John Cena would follow his example...
  • Charlie Haas on Thursday Night Smackdown in 2004, following Dawn Marie spreading a rumor about the two of them having an affair and picking fights with his girlfriend Jackie Gayda. He decided he didn't want anything else to do with either of them and let them know it in the meanest way he could, leaving both crying.
  • Chris Hero all around in 2006 when he turned on IWA Mid-South, the promotion he first became a star in and went from merely heckling Ring of Honor wrestlers to vowing to destroy their company during the CZW invasion that started in January.
  • Takayuki Iizuka used to be a fairly unassuming tag team specialist but then he broke out on his own in 2008, attacking wrestlers with a loaded glove and finding a new hobby in bullying New Japan Pro-Wrestling's tv commentator Shinpei Nogami with already jerkass Toru Yano.
  • Austin Aries was already a jerkass but took it to new heights when the Ring of Honor fans started showing preference to Tyler Black over him.
  • Mercedes Martinez started taking several levels of jerkass in World Wonder Ring Stardom in 2011 after she vowed to take the World Of Stardom to the United States and started resorting to underhanded tactics to try and fulfill that vow. Then it started to crop up in the USA while she was in SHIMMER, where she was unusually rough with Davina Rose and continued to attack Leva Bates after she had already won their match.
  • Bobby Roode became much more of a jerk ass following his first victory of the TNA World Heavyweight Title following Hulk Hogan's claim that he wasn't ready to hold the belt.
  • La Rosa Negra suddenly became a jerkass in the PWS after a couple shows in. It was eventually revealed this was because Vinny Fenucci had practically appointed her to become the next Bombshells champion in the event someone "not pretty enough" won the tournament.
  • Big E. Langston, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston, three wrestlers struggling to get airtime and opportunities who came together near the end of 2014 to celebrate "A New Day", ending up lashing out at everything and becoming bitter after the fans booed them for their optimism, clapping and dancing. But this new Jerkass portrayal ended up being so darn entertaining that the stable became a group of lovable heels, enjoying two runs as World Tag Team Champions, and eventually getting turned back to faces because the fans loved their new personas so much.
  • Cedric Alexander was a nice guy who became a jerk ass in Ring Of Honor when his match with Kazuchika Okada was put off for a year, the general fan reaction was that he had no chance anyway and he failed to prove them wrong when he finally did get Okada in the ring.