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The more astute readers among you may have noticed that I haven't yet gone so far as to give anything an actual "F." That's not out of any kind-heartedness on my part, it's just that every time I got ready to give one out, I would ask myself, "is it really that bad, compared to the verminous, soul-tainting badness of Scrappy-Doo?"
—Lore Fitzgerald Sjoberg, The Book of Ratings
Popular characters have fandoms. But sometimes, there is a character who has a hatedom. We'll call this guy The Scrappy, or more formally the Fan Unfavorite. This is not to be confused with the Hate Sink (which is a character the audience simply wishes to root against), though it can overlap if poorly written.
While much usually depends on execution, certain kinds of characters have a much higher probability of being hated:
- The Ace, when used for the wrong situation.
- An Annoying Younger Sibling, a Bratty Half-Pint, a Bratty Teenage Daughter, an Alpha Bitch, a Spoiled Brat or a Royal Brat, especially if they don't grow out of it.
- A Cousin Oliver is very likely to irritate the fans by upsetting the standard character dynamic. Even worse if it is also a Kid Appeal Character inserted in a work not initially directed towards younger viewers.
- A Complete Monster, though that character may be designed to be hated.
- A Dirty Coward and especially if it makes them an Action Survivor.
- An Entitled Bastard that causes harm to the heroes but expects to be rescued by them.
- An Exposition Fairy that tries to be helpful but winds up being annoying.
- Someone who performed a Face Heel Turn may earn ire to the fans who really dislikes the term 'traitor', unless they are forced into it or are not very happy about it.
- A Deadpan Snarker that's too abrasive and insufficiently charismatic.
- A Manipulative Bastard but not a Magnificent Bastard.
- A Karma Houdini, depending on how horrible they were.
- The Load, who needs the heroes to take care of them without contributing anything useful in return. Including a personality.
- A Mary Sue or Marty Stu, including common official varieties such as Invincible Hero and Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Note that Marty Stus have a tendency to get away scot-free.
- A Pointy-Haired Boss who isn't sufficiently funny.
- A Smug Snake, especially if he/she does something so heinous they stop being "cool", though most are made this way on purpose.
- The Suspiciously Similar Substitute will undoubtedly be hated by fans of the beloved character they replace.
- An overly recurring villain.
- An Unwitting Instigator of Doom. You can practically touch the markedly-better alternate universe that could have been, if they hadn't been doing that thing in that place at that exact moment.
- This Loser Is You. Sometimes an attempt to make an incompetent main character that the audience can relate to ends up in a character that the audience wishes was anyone but the main character.
- Any character that is rife with Unfortunate Implications.
- An Ungrateful Bastard.
- A Nice Guy / Nice Girl when not given any interesting personality traits other than being nice to everyone.
- In video games, That One Boss when it's especially frustrating.
- A character with too much Angst Dissonance.
- A Soapbox Sadie.
- An Insufferable Genius.
- Someone who torments The Woobie willingly.
- A Villain Protagonist, especially if heinous, as well as that most are Karma Houdinis.
- A poorly-written Only Sane Man or Straight Man, especially in situations that don't call for one.
- A Straw Loser, especially if the person they're the straw loser to isn't much better.
- Any character that reeks of Positive Discrimination.
- The Generic Guy in a cast of unique characters.
- Someone who likes another character who is either a disliked character or just shows that he/she doesn't care for the former, will often be lauded with ridicules and dislikes, with some camp calling the first character stupid, or even consider them as another Scrappy.
In addition, if the writers begin relying too heavily on an already-present character with some potentially annoying quirks (like The Unintelligible or the Non-Human Sidekick), the viewers may begin to find him/her very annoying indeed. Sometimes even a very popular character is at risk of becoming a Scrappy when he or she wears out his or her welcome by being overexposed.
Occasionally, a character intended as a Butt Monkey will backfire and become a Scrappy, too. This usually happens when a writer attempts to make his mishaps even funnier by making him an unlikeable person to whom it's very satisfying to see horrible things befall. A great idea, but sometimes it backfires when the Butt Monkey becomes so annoying that whatever happens to him in the story, audiences are haunted by the feeling that it will never be enough. An especial risk when the Butt Monkey gags are prolonged, after which even a character who's not inherently unlikeable can stop being funny and become a Damsel Scrappy. It also comes full-circle in a way; note also that many Scrappies can easily become Butt Monkeys when touched upon in fan discussions and literary parodies. In any given Hate Fic, and even in the occasional straight-up Fanfic, the author may very likely go a step further than making The Scrappy into the Butt Monkey, killing him or her off (often brutally), or giving a "hero" Scrappy a Face Heel Turn so he becomes the villain; after which he again will likely be killed off.
Strangely, at the other end of the spectrum lies another common scrappy, the Author Avatar. Unlike a Butt Monkey, they lack any sort of shame on principle; instead serving as the voice of reason, or whatever contrived argument the writer thinks is reason. If bad things happen to this character, it will be to prove that everyone else is allegedly stupider.
Some people conflate Hate Sink characters with The Scrappy, on the fact that both types are hated by fans; but the difference is that in a high percentage of cases the Hate Sink is intentionally written that way -- usually to give fans a character on whom project their irritation if the nominal villain is inactive or relateable. As the trope namer proves, a Scrappy could have been written with the initial intention of being relatable and sympathetic (and maybe was, at the beginning), but their gimmick overstayed its welcome and the fans become increasingly irritated by its existence instead.
Just as there are several types of characters that can become Scrappies, the resulting Scrappies can take many forms:
- The Damsel Scrappy, where fans tire of the Damsel in Distress becoming, ah, distressed.
- The Ethnic Scrappy, a particularly awful manifestation when the racial caricature of the Funny Foreigner becomes offensive. Ironically, this frequently results from well-intentioned attempts to make the cast of characters more diverse.
- A Periphery Hatedom can spring up if the character is liked by the target audience but considered the Scrappy by people outside that target.
- Americans Hate Tingle is related, where they're liked in their home country but shunned elsewhere.
- The Replacement Scrappy, hated simply because he took the place of a guy that was liked.
- The Tier-Induced Scrappy, a video game character hated for gameplay reasons instead of story ones.
- X-Pac Heat occurs when it's the performer, rather than the character, that draws the reaction.
Not all Scrappies are doomed to their status. If the writers notice what's happening, they may change the character in order to make sure they are no longer hated, give them a tragic death scene, simply send them away, or at the very least show that the other characters are as annoyed by them as the fans are. If the character is a Jerkass Straight Man, Butt Monkey, or Chew Toy, though, don't expect anything to change; these characters are meant to be unlikeable on purpose, as it's part of their charm.
On the other hand, if the writers take a shine to The Scrappy and add some elements of Mary Sue, or otherwise put more focus on them over more popular/liked characters, this will add gasoline to the flames - they've just turned The Scrappy into the dreaded Creator's Pet. Expect anti-websites (and, in the social media era, dozens of Orkut communities/Tumblr blogs/Twitter accounts against the character); message threads that degenerate into flamefests; and a hard fast descent into loonydom.
Of course, writers may also make a Scrappy character intentionally in order to spoof the concept. A Temporary Scrappy exists to get on the viewers' nerves and then get thrown out at the end of the episode.
Whenever fanfiction (especially Shipping) is involved, The Scrappy will very likely die for the writer's chosen pairing. Even if they aren't technically involved in the Ship. They'll also become the frequent subject of Ron the Death Eater treatment.
- Scrappy-Doo from Scooby Doo was hated by many of the show's longtime fans, with some of the hate coming from his introduction timed with major retools to the show (specifically, dumping half the original cast, switching to a Two Shorts format, and the franchise's first clumsy attempts to lose the Scooby-Doo Hoax), but a great deal also being earned by his thoroughly obnoxious behavior of vainly boasting about picking a fight with villains he couldn't hope to harm.
- Ironically, despite how much Scrappy has been loathed and how hard the franchise has distanced themselves from the character, at the time of his introduction, Scrappy was extremely popular. The show was already on the verge of cancellation due to low ratings, leading the writers to create the character in a last-ditch attempt to save it. Kids loved him and the ratings sky-rocketed, leading to the various format changes that happened later to give more prominence to Scrappy.
- The 2002 movie, meanwhile, parodies this nicely: the gang are revealed to have kicked Scrappy out several years beforehand for attempting to take over Mystery Inc, going as far as leaving him in the middle of a deserted road (in the same box Scooby found him!) while they drive off. He then turns out to be the movie's Big Bad, becomes a hulking monstrosity bent on destroying Scooby and tries to kill the main characters, even going so far as to suck the souls out of Velma, Fred and Daphne. Following his defeat, Scooby PUNCHES HIM. Is anyone else seeing a massive subtext about Scrappy's negative influence on the show here?
- It's gotten so bad that Scrappy is all but edited out of any series or movies he appeared in when they're released on DVD. Sure, the content itself is unchanged, but the trailers, cover art, and descriptions on DVD covers for Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo, Scooby and the Ghoul School, and 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo reduce Scrappy's presence to a bare minimum if it doesn't make it nonexistent. Cartoon Network's official website makes reference to the character's hatedom with the Shockwave game Scrappy Stinks. It's one of the oldest games on the site, having been up since at least 2000.
This is a very subjective trope, more based on the fandom than the character itself. The visceral response to The Scrappy can baffle other fans who don't take the character as seriously, or even sympathize with him or her. Often it's subjected to Double Standards particularly against female characters, somehow negative traits are often seen as less forgivable in a female character than a male character. Please only post examples of the fandom hating a character; posting Personal Scrappies could get messy, especially if the Scrappy is in at the center of a Fandom Rivalry. Die for Our Ship entries should also be placed on that trope page only, though someone could be a Scrappy because of that reason.
No real life examples, please; this is an subjective audience reaction trope.
- The Scrappy/Advertising
- The Scrappy/Animated Film
- The Scrappy/Anime
- The Scrappy/Comic Books
- The Scrappy/Film
- The Scrappy/Laconic
- The Scrappy/Literature
- The Scrappy/Live Action TV
- The Scrappy/Other Media
- The Scrappy/Quotes
- The Scrappy/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- The Scrappy/Video Games
- The Scrappy/Web Original
- The Scrappy/Western Animation