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I've had an epiphany, and here it is right here: There is one person in every group of friends that nobody likes. You basically keep them there to hate their guts. When that person is not around the rest of your little base camp, your hobby is cutting that person down. Example: Karen is always a douchebag. Every group has a Karen and she's always a bag of douche. And when she's not around, you just look at each other and go "God, Karen, she's such a douchebag!" until she walks up and then you're like "Hey, what's up, Kare?"
Dane Cook

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. In a group of otherwise good friends, there is one character who is an unrepentant Jerkass to everyone else. Or, if they aren't downright mean or cruel, just may be so stupid or just plain weird that it's embarrassing to be seen with them. In either case, someone asking "Why are they even friends?" is a perfectly legitimate question. One that is usually answered by one of several reasons:

  1. Seniority- They've known this person the longest. They may be the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder.
  2. Proximity- They're neighbours and simply can't be rid of.
  3. Necessity- He's worth keeping around because he's useful or can provide something no one else can.
  4. Dating- Someone in the group is dating the person and insists on including them.
  5. Fear- The last thing you want to do is piss this person off by telling them they can't play.
  6. Politeness- The group is simply too nice to kick this person to the curb.
  7. Audience Popularity- Sometimes a Jerkass Ensemble Darkhorse will start hanging around the group, based on some flimsy pretext, just so that the writers have an excuse to feature him more.
  8. Supervision- The disliked character is too dangerous or irresponsible to be left to their own devices.
  9. Caring- Deep down, the group does care (or the disliked character cares about them), and it seems to be otherwise simply for a matter of very difficult behaviour.

It's not even that their friends aren't aware of their behavior, either. They're perfectly well aware the person is a jerk, or a geek, or a ditz, and will frequently treat them as such based on their behavior. They still get included in the group nonetheless.

Compare Vitriolic Best Buds and With Friends Like These..., where this kind of attitude is usually limited to one or two select members of the group as opposed to being the opinion of the group as a whole. Can be the group's Butt Monkey. If The Friend Nobody Likes is a protagonist or otherwise portrayed sympathetically, he may instead become The Woobie. The Friend may also be The Gadfly if they aren't an up-and-out Jerkass. See also My Friends and Zoidberg, where Zoidberg is usually The Friend Nobody Likes, No Accounting for Taste, when the "Why are they together" question is asked of a romantic couple and Token Evil Teammate, which is this trope with the Jerkass taken up to outright evil.

Examples of The Friend Nobody Likes include:


Anime and Manga

  • Tomo Takino of Azumanga Daioh hangs around with Yomi because they've been friends since grade school. The rest of her friends are classmates, and nine times out of ten her antics piss everyone else off. It's the same thing with Yukari and Nyamo. In this case, however, it's easy to see why the others hang out with them - they're likeable enough.
    • Also by Kiyohiko Azuma: Yanda from Yotsuba&!. It doesn't help that the person he will pick on most is five years old.
  • Miu Matsuoka in Strawberry Marshmallow. She's usually included because she's Chika's oldest friend and next door neighbor.
  • Chiri in Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei is a lot like Cartman. She's a very extreme Heroic Comedic Sociopath and everyone is afraid of her Ax Crazy streak, but she's still part of the group. It probably helps that everyone else is pretty crazy/borderline sociopathic.
  • Harou Niijima from Historys Strongest Disciple Kenichi. He's a self-proclaimed evil genius, and is cowardly and manipulative. Even his "friends" often wonder why the heck they tolerate his presence. The only person who seems to geniunely like having him around is the resident Cloudcuckoolander Siegfried, everyone else was bullied, blackmailed, or otherwise manipulated into joining him... but at least he's good with information, so he does make himself quite useful.
  • Inuyasha: Inuyasha himself starts off as this, though he sheds it rather quickly.
  • Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z falls into this during the Android arc due to most of the cast fearing him, with the exception of Bulma (who had his baby) and Goku (who's more of the forgiving sort and actually likes having a rival like Vegeta around). Even his son, Trunks, spends about as much time berating him as he did seeking his approval. It's so bad that whenever Vegeta gets hurt, no one is in any hurry to heal him, even when he's demanding it. And when he first went Super Saiyan, the entire main cast all but groaned. After getting beaten unconscious by Cell, Krillin says point-blank that he didn't really care if he dies and is only doing this because Trunks believes in him. He lightens up slightly as time goes on, though he never quite grows out of it; the other fighters are more comfortable having him around but his arrogant personality still puts him off most of the cast. Hell, even in Dragon Ball Minus Vegeta's fellow Saiyans didn't seem to like him too much. Bardock calls him a pain in the neck partner when he learns Raditz is paired up with him.
  • Ging Freecss (Gon's dad) in Hunter × Hunter is this to the vast majority of the Hunter Organization. He's highly regarded and admired for his skills and knows most, if not all of them on a personal level, and every single one of them can immediately agree that he is a colossal pain in the ass.

Fan Works

  • Sherman started out as this in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
  • The Victorious fanfic, Tori Is Done, mercilessly lampshades the fact that Jade is this. When the gang is forced to choose between Tori and Jade (someone they've known since starting high school), it takes them three days to choose Tori.

Film

 Nick: You know how every group of friends has that one asshole? He's our asshole.

  • While Stiffler is more of an outright antagonist in the first American Pie, he becomes this in the second since they're staying at his place in the summer, and works to redeem himself in the third.
  • Cameron in Dead Poets Society -- the others only hang out with him because he's part of the study group. In the end he's the one to betray them and Keating.
  • Begbie in Trainspotting clearly terrifies his "friends" with his Hair-Trigger Temper. When Renton flees his former lifestyle, Begbie tracks him down and becomes The Thing That Would Not Leave.
  • Alan in The Hangover.

Literature

  • In the backstory of Harry Potter, Peter Petigrew. He was the least able and respected of his group of friends. He eventually turned on them to serve Voldemort.
    • While he was the least liked outside his group of friends, its clear that the Marauders themselves loved him, to the point where the Potters trusted him with their lives over Remus and Sirius. It just makes his betrayal all the worst.
  • In Unseen Academicals Andy Shank is described as having friends solely because it's marginally safer than being his enemy.
  • Ciaphas Cain has an unusual example in Lieutenant/Major Toren Divas. An odd example since he also manages to be Cain's best friend (or as close as he gets to one). Cain hates him for constantly putting him in danger, being an idiot (and thus putting him in danger) and being the only one who calls him "Cai". On the other hand he's reliable, not bad company, terrible at playing poker and usually knows the best gossip and drinking spots.
  • Francis Begbie in Trainspotting. Renton and the rest of the gang basically pretend to be Begbie's friend because they're scared of him. Renton details a list of lies that one must pretend to believe in order to hang out with Begbie and not get beaten up.

Live Action TV

  • In That 70s Show, Jackie, at first, was only in the group because she was the girlfriend of one member, Kelso. Later though she became a regular friend.
  • Victorious has three.
    • Trina Vega, Tori's older sister, is usually the butt of all the jokes. Jade in two different episodes even tells her "No one likes you!". She's Type 2.
    • Jade herself is an open mixture of Type 1, Type 4, and Type 5 and it's implied Type 8. There may be Type 9 buried deep in there somewhere but it's clear the gang is at their happiest when Jade isn't around.
    • Rex Powers, Robbie's puppet. A full on Type 2 mixed in with Companion Cube.
      • Robbie might also qualify for a downplayed version of this.
  • On ICarly, for Freddie and Gibby and anyone else who might be friends with Carly, Sam is this through Seniority, Fear and Audience Popularity.
  • Pierce in Community. His necessity is revealed when, in his absence, the study group begins to fight amongst itself for incredibly petty reasons just because they no longer have Pierce to kick around.
  • Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory.

 Penny: "How did Sheldon get new friends in the first place?"

Howard: *shrug* "We liked Leonard."

    • For those who haven't watched the show, Sheldon and Leonard are roommates... therefore wherever Leonard goes, Sheldon usually goes.
    • However, flashbacks in "The Staircase Implementation" reveal that Leonard at least has a legitimate reason for tolerating Sheldon's annoying tendencies: Leonard caused a rocket-fuel explosion in the elevator, and Sheldon pulled him out just in time. However, no one else in the group has any other reason for putting up with him, other than liking Leonard.
    • This is lampshaded in a season 5 episode where after Sheldon stops being friends with Leonard, the group, minus Amy, stops hanging out with him. Once this arc ends, people start genuinely liking Sheldon for who he is.
  • Barney in How I Met Your Mother. After the bus accident in the Season 3 finale, he starts to shed this but it does crop up overtime though it's clear then that it's just disgust at his horndog lifestyle.

  "If you moved away, I'd have to follow you. Then Marshall would follow me, and Ted would follow Marshall. The only upside is that we might lose Barney."

  • Jayne Cobb in Firefly, to the point where the others don't even bother with the "wait until they're out of the room" part. When the crew is discussing what to do with River, a mentally unstable girl who may or may not be a living weapon, Zoe says she's never hurt anyone. When Jayne points out she sliced him in the chest with a butcher's knife without provocation, she just amends it to "anyone we can't spare."
    • Of course, Jayne isn't technically a "friend" at all; he's a mercenary, and in fact one that Mal hired out from under another guy while that other guy was busy holding Mal up. He's told the good captain in no uncertain terms that if he gets a good enough offer he will turn on him -- but since he's grown to respect Mal, he'll do him the service of not stabbing him in the back about it. Any actual friendship between Jayne and anyone else on the ship is purely incidental.
      • And yet, he cares enough about what they think of him to ask Mal to make up a different account of his death when Mal is about to throw him out of the airlock for secretly trying to turn in River and Simon for their bounties. It's implied that this request is the only reason Mal gave Jayne another chance.
      • Although its hinted throughout the series that as time goes by he comes to respect Mal and the rest of the crew more and more, its also implied that his friendship with Book is turning him into more of a better person.
      • Jayne's supposed cutthroat, purely mercenary behavior is debatable, as his qualification for this particular trope. Let it suffice that he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and the other characters buy his act to varying degrees. Your Mileage May Vary as well.
  • Similar to the The Big Bang Theory example, but less extreme: Screech in Saved by the Bell is good friends with Zack but merely tolerated by the rest of the group (and outright despised by Lisa). They all like Zack and Screech is part of the baggage.
  • Bob from Becker.
  • Depending on the Writer, Cliff from Cheers. In many episodes, it's just Carla who hates him, but in others it seems like no one can stand his prescence, and even Norm just puts up with him.
  • Logan from Zoey 101. He started out as Proximity and Seniority (being Michael and Chase's roommate) but the gang slowly warmed up to him.
  • Seinfeld:
    • Though everyone on the show is horrible, George really takes the cake, with Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer often being embarrassed or disgusted by him. Funnily enough, George is convinced Elaine is this.
    • Though Newman is supposed to be Jerry's Arch Enemy, there are days when he more nicely fits into this trope.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise inverts it during the Federation's founding. Humans are the only party that the other three species (Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites) like while they hate the others with the burning fury of a thousand suns.

Stand Up Comedy

  • Named for one of Dane Cook's stand up routines, quoted in part above. He finishes it by stating that if you don't know which one of your friends is this, chances are that you yourself are this trope.
  • Gabriel Iglesias often tells stories of one of his oldest friends Felipe, whose inability to know when to stop messing around is frequently the cause of whatever mess Gabriel ends up describing.

Video Games

  • One of the many Recurring Elements in the Tales Series is a party member that everyone else treats like a massive annoyance. The more snarky characters frequently get in shots at their expense, often to the point of making the Friend Nobody Likes into a Butt Monkey.
  • Morrigan From Dragon Age: Origins is this. Nobody else in the party likes her (and vice versa).
    • Well, except the dog, but he likes everyone. And the Warden can have a romance with her.
    • Oghren, Sten and Shale seem to be okay with her as well, but no one else likes them, either. (And Oghren obviously just thinks she's hot.)
  • In Dragon Age II, Anders / Justice fulfills this role later on in the game due to his obsession with the Templar/Mage conflict alienating him from everyone who's somehow involved, meaning everyone who isn't Isabela, Varric or (possibly) Hawke, and even they might tell him to his face that his one-note obsession is getting really hard to tolerate.
    • Carver also serves as this in the first act. He's antagonistic to every party member not named Merrill. Everyone only tolerates him because he's Hawke's younger brother, making him a Proximity example.
  • Francis and Nick appear to fulfill this role in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 respectively.
  • Mass Effect 2: Downplayed with Miranda Lawson. It's an exaggeration to say that nobody likes her, but her pro-human beliefs and Undying Loyalty to Cerberus cause a lot of friction between her and a good portion of the squad, with the only exceptions being Samara, Kasumi and Jacob, the latter of whom has known her for years and is therefore a good friend. She grows out of it in the third game.

Garrus: I don't want you leading the second team! Half of us don't even trust you.
Miranda: This isn't a popularity contest. Lives are at stake!

  • Persona 3: Metis from The Answer starts off as this, due to the fact that she tried to kill the group when they first met. Akihiko is especially hostile towards her as he fully expects her to turn on them again at any time. She's a Proximity example, since as Aigis' sister, she joins the group at her request. She would be a Necessity example as well, but Junpei makes it clear that she doesn't get to decide whether they need her or not, regardless of how much she knows about the Abyss.
    • Ultimately downplayed, as Aigis quickly warms up to her, allowing her to call her 'Sister', Fuuka seems to like her (but then again, she likes everyone) and Ken seems to be slightly more trusting of her than the others, as he's willing to believe that she really does just want to protect Aigis.

Web Comics

  • Mike from the Walkyverse is a bizarre example - his relationship with other characters is so strong because he's a major Jerkass. Hell, he may be marrying a character who loves him for who he is.
  • Candy from Girls with Slingshots is in the same boat as Sheldon above; no one really likes her all that much, but she's attached to Jameson, who they do like, so they have to live with her. At least until her repeated efforts to sabotage his relationship with Maureen come to a head at the wedding and he wakes his ass up that Candy is possibly the worst friend in existence.
  • Seth from Sorcery 101 more or less the characters put up with him because one of them is bonded to him and he's pretty good at manipulating people in a way that's beneficial (though usually very messy, and in poor taste as he is almost always the last resort).

Web Original

  • Bladez in The Guild
  • What's-Her-Face in Teen Girl Squad is explicitly called the "pity friend" and is the one the other three are most likely to ditch or relegate to least-desired roles. Generally this just makes the other girls look mean, especially Cheerleader.
    • She's a deviation from the trope because there's nothing particularly wrong with her personality, she's actually the nicest of the four. This is why the other three look mean when they interact with her; it's because they are.
  • The crew in Binder of Shame is a group made entirely out of these people. Since they're the protagonist's only social contact, though, he actually goes into denial for a time and convinces himself that this is what friendship is (he gets better).
  • Puddy in Tales of MU is this to Mack for as long as she's Mack's roommate.
  • In Todd in the Shadows' review of From Justin To Kelly (crossed over with The Nostalgia Chick) he wonders why girls always have a "token evil friend."

Western Animation

  • South Park. Eric Cartman. This is the kid whose crowning moment was getting a kid to eat a bowl of chili made with his parents. Yet he'll frequently be included in the activities of the other boys when he isn't busy being the active threat. To quote Chef from "The Biggest Douche in the Universe"

 Chef: Cartman is your friend whether you like him or not!

    • Also summed up in "The Death of Eric Cartman," where the other boys declare that he's not their friend and that they will ignore him from now on:

 Token: Ignoring him? How come?

Kyle: Because he's a fat, racist, self-centered, intolerant, manipulating sociopath.

Token: Oh yeah.

    • Stan's diagnosis of cynicism causes him to become this in "You're Getting Old."
    • Craig points out that the whole group are seen like that by the rest of the 4th Graders. Technically, they are still friends, but their Weirdness Magnet antics are getting old in the eyes of the rest.
    • Butters, to an extent (or just Depending on the Writer), though in this case it's because he's an overly-cheerful loser. This is especially evident while he was "the new Kenny" and the others constantly abused him. Tweek suffered from this for a while after replacing him.
  • Bloo in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
  • Daffy Duck.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • Jar Jar Binks. Even the people who like him are aware he's a clumsy idiot who is probably going to mess things up. This portrayal is actually a step up for him, letting him be an actual character instead of just a punchline.
    • Padmé Amidala. She's one of the more vocal proponents for peaceful negotiation with the Separatists which causes her to receive a lot of hate from the more aggressive senators who want the war to keep going. Partly justified because she's so young (she died at 27) and people consider her a Naive Newcomer/Wide-Eyed Idealist who doesn't understand the realities of politics.
    • Anakin Skywalker. His Action Hero status distances him from the other Jedi who follow the rigid Jedi code. Some can still work with, and openly respect, Anakin but others, like Mace Windu, never miss a chance to say what a failure he is. This goes a long way into helping Sidious create Darth Vader.
  • Starscream in most versions of the Transformers. Yes, he's such a Smug Snake and self-serving bastard that even the other Decepticons aren't fond of him. Megatron generally keeps Starscream around because, Starscream really is that good at his job, he's the best choice for SIC (the others being either very loyal but unambitious and emotionless, or even more transparent than Starscream in their ambitions), and to have someone like Starscream so close reminds Megatron to always watch his back.
  • In Voltron: Legendary Defender's, Seasons 1 and 2, Shiro is Keith's Only Friend. A good part of Keith's development is stepping out of this and realizing that not only he isn't alone any longer, but he can reach out for other people who are willing to help and care for him, if he poliely asks.
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