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Guys want to be him, gals want to be with him.

The Big Man on Campus is the most popular guy in the High School. He is handsome, charming, a superb athlete and usually pretty smart (being booksmart is a common plus). Unlike his peers Alpha Bitch (who is usually his girlfriend until he realizes how awful she is) and the Jerk Jock (usually his friend until he realizes how awful he is) the Big Man on Campus never bullies anyone: he rules through charisma and general awesomeness rather than fear and manipulation. He'll probably grow up to become The Ace.

Which is not to say he is flawless, far from it. He is often superficially shallow and smug and might even reach Jerkass status in the way he casually treats his girlfriends -- at least until he meets the Cool Loser heroine and learns the error of his ways.

The High School Hustler is often also a Big Man.

Generally this character is either the protagonist himself, or is the chief love interest in a story about a Cool Loser heroine. He rarely turns up if the story is about male outcasts (as the existence of a benign popular kid makes it harder to use jocks as villains) or about a popular girl (as those sort of stories usually give her an outsider love interest).

The Big Man on Campus is Always Male. For a 'popular but good hearted' High School female equivalent Spoiled Sweet is the trope of choice. Compare School Idol.

Examples of Big Man on Campus include:


Comics

  • Parodied in Peanuts with Snoopy's "Joe Cool" persona. (There was also a one-off strip in which his persona was actually called "Big Man on the Campus").


Films


Literature

  • Will Wagner in Avalon High. Not so surprising, since he's the modern reincarnation of King Arthur.
  • Subverted in the Stephen King novel Rage, where the local BMOC proves to be almost as messed up as the guy who just shot two teachers and is holding the rest of the class hostage.
  • Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter is this at Hogwarts. Viktor Krum is implied to be this at Durmstrang.
    • Harry himself develops into one in Half Blood Prince, albeit rather reluctantly. He becomes the captain of his Quidditch team and develops a gang of groupies to go along with it.
  • Eino Fflliikkiinnenn in Barefoot Boy With Cheek.


Live-Action TV

  • Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell.
  • Arrested Development's Steve Holt is a classic Big Man on Campus. Never mind that he's been a senior for five to six years by the time the series ends.
  • Tommy Dawkins, whose show was even called Big Wolf on Campus!
  • Doug Simpson from The Brady Bunch, whose full name appears to be "Doug Simpson Big Man on Campus".
  • Finn prior to joining glee club on, well, Glee. He is even dating the defrosting Alpha Bitch Quinn, best friends with Jerk Jock Puck (being oblivious to them falling for each other behind his back) and is attracted to loser diva Rachel.
    • Blaine seems like this, but it's revealed to be an act to hide his insecurities.
  • Dude! SNL's "Samurai Big Man on Campus"
  • Gossip Girls Nate Archibald in seasons one and two.
  • Jeff's introduction in the second episode of Community definitely plays on this trope.
  • Jake on Awkward. Matty would also count if he wasn't so self-conscious.


Theater

  • Even though he's at college, Fiyero Tiggular from Wicked is a perfect example. He is handsome, very shallow and popular and has a reputation for being "scandalicious" and everyone worships him. He even goes out with a Libbyish girl (though she turns out not to be) until he dumps her for Elphaba.
  • Throughout the musical, Brett from 13 flip flops between this and the Jerk Jock he ends up being a decided Jerk Jock in the end.
    • Evan tries to be this to get people to come to his Bar Mitzvah.


Video Games

  • Bully. Hopkins is a class example, with his position being directly referred to as 'King of the school' on a number of occasions. Of course, he's only this during certain parts of the game, since the rest basically concerns him fighting to GET to this station. However, he's got the qualifications at all times: Smart enough to ace every class, tough enough to beat down the entire football-team (literally), and charming enough to score with literally every girl in school (and quite a few of the boys, too).
  • In the university expansion of The Sims 2, college Sims can become the big man on campus by having a full influence bar (basically, 20 friends at once).
  • Edgar from Psychonauts seems to have been this in his teenage years. For a while.
  • Akihiko Sanada from Persona 3.
    • Also, the main character from both 3 and 4 can become one of these over time.
  • Charlie Macdonald in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, the most popular student in his university and the star of its (American) football team. He is a professional assassin. He also has 24 cheerleaders with him at all times. They are also all professional assassins.
  • Akira from Lux-Pain is hinted to be this by observing some conversations in the game. He's apparently very popular in school despite failing and Akira himself doesn't seem aware of his status. Then again, stopping the Serial Killer from last year's incident is a great way to become popular. Sayuri calls him out on this and even accuses him of being a Jerk Jock behind the facade. This actually pisses him off only because she said it in front of Atsuki.


Web Comics

  • Luero from Ears for Elves thrives as this. He doesn't need people to know, his KNOWS people know.


Web Original

  • Arguably Survival of the Fittest character Steve Digaetano, probably the most popular guy in the V3 highschool: Southridge. He isn't perhaps a Jerkass of the highest order, but he certainly has his moments.
  • Harry in A Very Potter Musical is totally this trope except he somewhat of a Jerkass near the beginning (prior to his Character Development). Draco wants to be this but fails since he is a Ted Baxter (though he thinks it is Harry's fault). Cedric Diggory is a more classic example and would be this but he is in Hufflepuff House.
  • Quarterman/Quarterback from Teen Girl Squad. He ends up falling in love with Ugly One, asking her to see him to the end credits after a really confusing speech.


Western Animation

  • TJ from Recess. He shows one of the key traits most openly in the episode where he was forced to stay with the 'indoor kids', kids who would rather stay inside and play Dungons and Dragons than play in the playground. Though he is intially hesitant it isn't long before he has blended in perfectly and counts each and every one of them as a friend, rallying their unique talents to his side in several future episodes.
  • Johnny Hitswell in The Replacements.
  • Kim Possible: Brick Flagg might be the boyfriend to Bonnie Rockwaller, but he's actually pretty decent (if a bit dim) judging from what few appearances he gets. He later goes off to college in the fourth season and dumps Bonnie.
    • Josh Mankey might better qualify... smart, cute and popular. He was with Kim for the first two seasons before ending up with Tara and Put on a Bus.
  • Ulrich from Code Lyoko has all the trappings of a Big Man on Campus, but he doesn't actively pursue this status. Regardless, he still has several girls vying for his attention at any one point.
  • Doyle was this before attending Galaxy High.
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