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There are certain mentalities that create Jerkasses, or at least allow them to tolerate themselves. They come in many versions, but most of them boil down to one of three statements:

Type 1: Kindness is weakness, and Nice Guys Finish Last. If you want to get ahead in this world, you have to be ruthless, mean, and manipulative.

Type 2: I'm right and all these peasants are wrong, so it's OK to treat them like crap just to hammer my point in. The stock phrase "I'm not a jerk, I just don't suffer fools" may be used in their defense, the implied insult of which only serves to prove the accuser's point.

Type 3: That's just the way I am, and I can't (or don't care to) change. Deal with it.

Nietzsche Wannabes, Manipulative Bastards and jerks of every type will self-righteously spout one of these philosophies whenever called out on their hostility, arrogance, and general pissy behavior.

When an author comes to believe this, it usually results in Jerk Sues. When the fans do, a Draco in Leather Pants is born. See also Shut UP, Hannibal (or occasionally What the Hell, Hero?, a frequent response to Jerk Justifications. If a character's Jerk Justifications are the result of painful experience, can result in a Jerkass Woobie.

Examples of Jerk Justifications include:


Type 1

  • Your average Corrupt Corporate Executive, if they got enough Character Development to be called out on their cruelty, will respond with something like this.
  • Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince is all about this type.
  • Nabiki from Ranma ½ tends to invoke type one if she gets called on her behaviour (which is rarely).
  • Kreia of Knights of the Old Republic 2 is a variant.
  • Souther of Fist of the North Star is a Complete Monster version of this. For him, to be ahead in the Crapsack World where he lives, one has to be as ruthless and devoid of compassion as possible.
  • Kratos' justification. Not entirely wrong, since many time he must kill innocent bystanders if he want to survive. The Olympians' justification is more like type 2.
  • Guy of Gisborne from Robin Hood is Type A in regards to his pursuit of his ambition, but also a little Type C in that he is well aware that he has "committed heinous crimes." Only he isn't prepared to do anything about it except to rely on Marian to "wash away his sins." She begs to differ. It does not end well.
  • And that's how Sue C's it!"
  • A common justification for cliques, trolls, internet bullies and doxing(fishing for people's personal information or using it again them). Of course, the instant any of this stuff happens to THEM you can expect them to drop their "morality" like a sack of hammers.
  • Absolute Power: Charles Prentiss. He's a bastard because being a bastard works. You might wish it didn't, and he has some sympathy with that viewpoint. But it does.
  • Silver from Pokémon Gold and Silver and its remakes, though he eventually gets over it.
  • In Berserk, this is Guts' justification after the Eclipse and he becomes a social Darwinist.

Type 2

  • Every strawman ever.
  • Sentinel Prime.
  • Least I Could Do often has an arc where Rayne is showed to be justified in his asshole behaviour towards his friends because he has a better reason. Treats roommate like shit because said roommate has been shutting him out. Won't give Issa a job because Issa refuses to look for a job herself. Note we don't see any of these bad habits until they're mentioned in the redemption arcs.
  • Terry Goodkind again, this time with other characters.
  • The Gulag Archipelago has the line, "What can I do with the incorrigible directness of my personality! ... I am compelled to utter reprimands; it disciplines those nearby."
  • Misfile had a moment in book 12 where former villain Kate talked about her past as an aggressive driver. She says she's justified because she never forced anyone to race... despite that when she was first mentioned it's revelaed she has forced herself into races and in her first appearance ten books before, she didn't give Ash a chance to say no and when Ash lost, demanded a rematch over Ash's protests.

Type 3

  • Most characters with Freudian Excuses for their behavior fall back on this excuse. Apparently, Mommy Issues are more important than self control and common decency.
  • This is usually the justification for the Jerk Sue. In the author's failed attempt to excuse whatever the Jerk Sue does and cast them in a sympathetic or just "assertive," they end up writing it off as this.
  • Sawyer from Lost is type 3, with a little bit of self-loathing and a whole lot of Heart of Gold thrown in. At least, he was in the first seasons. He would usually justify his actions with "I'm not a good person."
  • Gene Simmons and Ted Nugent have used this in Real Life.
  • "Take Me Or Leave Me," from Rent, is essentially an entire song of Type 3 justification. Most of it is on Maureen's part, but Joanne does a lot of justifying and refusing to compromise by the number's end.
  • Organization XIII use this kind of excuse for their actions. Since they're Nobodies, who don't have hearts, it's simply in their nature to screw with the universe and the heroes, but it's clear from the start that 80% of the excuse is of type 2.
    • To be fair, the whole "missing a heart" bit makes them sociopaths by design. It's rather easy to be a jerk when you're completely incapable of empathy.
  • Sam Puckett on ICarly very much this type. Has had another character say outright that it would be weird if she didn't make them miserable, simply because Sam refuses to grow up or act maturely.
  • Damon on The Vampire Diaries has used "I'm a vampire" as an excuse for his behavior a few times. It would be a lot more convincing if not for the behavior of several other vampires demonstrating that it really isn't one.
  • Scott Kurtz. In a webcomics weekly podcast with his friends, they actually point out this has caused him to be alienated amongst pro print cartoonists and he responds by saying that other cartoonists are jerks so he should be able to be one as well.

Other

 "Would you rather a doctor who holds your son's hand while he dies or ignores him as he gets better."

  • All three types tend of show up on Survivor, with people saying types 1 and 3 almost verbatim to the Confession Cam. Nobody really wants to own up to type 2, but it's there.
    • Type 2 appears to be the specialty of Russell, from Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains.
  • Sheldon combines Types 2 and 3. Basically, he's House without the Deadpan Snarking or any sort of personality. Or so he'd have everyone believe.
  • Azula, while more Ax Crazy Magnificent Bastard than Jerkass, claims Types 1 and 3 for herself (during the Beach Episode she says that her mother was right about her being a monster, and a later episode has her frantically claiming that trust is for fools).
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: Cyrano combines Type I, II and III.
  • Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother uses Type I, Type II and Type III with great abandon and inconsistency, depending on whichever one will best get him out of a conundrum without admitting he's wrong/non-awesome or showing weakness: when his friends call him out on Type III by saying they're sick of "dealing" with him, he insists upon Type II. When they prove Type II wrong by showing him how much damage his jerkassery causes, he falls back on Type I. When they argue against Type I by demonstrating that they're all happy without being jerks, he seizes on to Type II to dismiss their opinions as signs that they're "lame" and then insists upon Type III, because he's "awesome". And so it begins again.
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