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Nice guys finish last, bad guys have a blast! take his money - grab his honey - dump that loser fast!
Lyrics in Eugene, Eugene, Hey Arnold

Nice guys finish last

that's why I'll treat you like trash

It's not what I really wanna do

But you only date bad guys so

I'll give it my best try to

treat you the way you want me to

What happens when a Genre Savvy character gets a little too overanalytical about the tropes Dogged Nice Guy and All Girls Want Bad Boys. He will conclude, logically, that since he's such a wonderful nice man, the only reason a girl would reject him is that all women are dumb and would rather date the Jerkass. Expect much Playing the Victim Card.

Depending largely on whether or not the character is meant to be shown as likable, others will either sympathize with him or call him out on really not being that much of a nice guy at all.

Jerk Asses sometimes use this line as a rationalization for being such tools. As do Jerkass nations.

The trope name is a misquote. There are several supposed sources and original quotes, but the fact that it's a misquote is the only certain thing.

Opposite of Cheaters Never Prosper. Related to Loser Protagonist, Romantic Runner-Up, and The Social Darwinist. For characters who actually finish last because they're nice, see Dogged Nice Guy.

Examples of Nice Guys Finish Last include:


Film

  • Stanley Ipkiss from The Mask. He grows out of it by the end of the film, where he learns how to still be a nice guy without being a pushover.
  • Implied throughout The Jane Austen Book Club. Lampshaded when Grigg has this conversation with Jocelyn.

 Grigg Harris: Women never go for the nice guys.

Jocelyn: Please, men say that, but when you get to know some of these men who complain the most, you find out they're not as nice as they think they are.

  • In Bedazzled, the protagonist, Elliot, starts out as one. Definitely Played for Laughs when he asks to be "the most sensitive man in the world."

Literature

  • The tongue-in-cheek book Nice Guys Don't Get Laid.
  • No More Mr Nice Guy is another, more serious self-help book where Dr. Robert Glover covers the 'Nice Guy' syndrome in detail. He explains that being a Nice Guy is not a good thing for you or your intended loved ones, repeatedly points out that acting like a self-centered jerk is just the opposite extreme, and generally advises that balancing your own wants and needs against those of other people is the key to happiness.

Live Action TV

  • There's an episode of The IT Crowd that plays with this in all kinds of weird ways. Roy tries to prove that "all women want bastards" by making a fake profile on a matchmaking Web site for a mean alter ego (it starts with "Shut up!"), and when he gets a response from a woman he actually quite fancies, he goes on a real date with her but has to pretend to be the bastard his profile made him out to be.
  • ICarly: Freddie invokes this by trying to prank order a fishy pizza to his teacher's house in front of Carly. When the pizza place calls back, he panics and runs away.
    • Actually works in iStage An Intervention when he pulls a prank on Sam after she pulled one on her. Carly is impressed, but Freddie lacks the confidence to follow through and try to ask her out.

Music

  • Cobra Starship has a song called "Nice Guys Finish Last", but it has a fairly tongue-in-cheek tone, and (given that it appears on the same album as "Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We're Famous") really shouldn't be taken seriously.
  • Green Day's "Nice Guys Finish Last" predates the song above, though it's not a Trope Namer by any stretch.
  • Frank Zappa: "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing".

Theatre

  • The song "Mr. Cellophane" from Chicago. Though in this character's case, he was actually married...to a fame seeking woman with low standards who dumped him after she was done using him.

Web Comics

  • Something Positive has Mike declare this, as he whines about acting like a girl's friend, only to have her fall for some better-looking guy who actually asked her out, rather than the creepy guy who was pretending friendship so he could get something out of it.
  • XKCD presented a comic featuring a nice guy going over his modus operandi.
  • Girls With Slingshots Jim goes on a tirade that "nice guys never get laid" to four perfectly normal guys who are getting laid. They are not amused.
    • Unfortunately this would have worked better if the normal guys had not been actually bragging about getting laid in front of Jim.

Web Original

  • "Nice Guys" by Nigahiga, Kevjumba, and Chester See is actually a subversion. In the music video, the guys go to a class where they learn that they must act like jerks in order to get women. However, they soon realize that acting like jerks actually makes girls hate them, and being nice is what really works.

Western Animation

  • An episode of the Baby Blues Animated Adaptation focused on this. When Rodney asks Darryll for advice on women, Daryll tells Rodney he was a nice guy in high school, but if he [Darryll] could do it all over again, he'd be the biggest Jerkass ever because he never got the girl. Rodney takes this to heart and starts acting this way, and sure enough, girls fall all over him. At the end, Darryll finds out the bad boy who competed with him is now working as a janitor, and stops thinking this way.
    • Subverted in that one of Rodney's co-workers, who makes more money and works less than Rodney, admits to being like the janitor.
  • An episode on Kim Possible had Ron trying to invoke this trope, and failing miserably.
    • Which is ironic since in an episode where Ron became evil, he was actually very competent.
  • An episode of Hey Arnold! dealt with this trope, in which a school play takes on this trope as its Family-Unfriendly Aesop (a change made by the director of it). In fact the trope quote comes from the Villain Song sung by Arnold's character, who was the Big Bad of the play.
  • Plankton said this to SpongeBob.

 Plankton: Haven’t you figured it out, SpongeBob? Nice guys finish last. Only aggressive people conquer the world! (laughs evilly)

Spongebob: "Well, what about aggressively nice people?"

Real Life

  • While it might have been misquoted, in terms of career, some studies have found that it's true, with people considered more disagreeable more likely to get hired and make more money in their lifetimes. Some have boiled it down to basically if a person is a little bit of a Jerkass, they're more likely to A) feel entitled to a promotion, raise, etc. and B) actually ASK for it. When applying it to a person's love life, however, it gets a little more tricky, with a big problem being most people tend to confuse "Nice Guy" with "Doormat."
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