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"Do you guys know why nobody else at school likes hanging out with you? Because you're always doing stuff like this. You're always coming up with some stupid idea to do something, and then it backfires, and then you end up in some foreign country, or in outer space or something. That's why no one likes hanging out with you guys."
Craig to Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, South Park

A character who is liked in the fandom is treated badly or overlooked in the show by other characters, often to the point of being the Butt Monkey. Occasionally though, this is intentional by the writers and becomes a Running Gag; the character isn't an extreme stereotype or even that annoying. It's just funny.

Part of it may be reflexive sympathy from the audience, but sometimes it's born out of the character being able to genuinely incite sympathy. On the other hand, some shows have such a large fandom that it's difficult to find common ground about who likes/dislikes any one character. Often it comes from the very large difference between what makes a character likable to impartial observers of a situation, and what makes him likable to the people he's actually interacting with. Being a jerk is a horrible way to make friends, but seems to do wonders for fans.

Compare Ensemble Darkhorse, Cool Loser and Designated Monkey; contrast Ascended Extra, Creator's Pet.

Examples of Unpopular Popular Character include:


Advertising

  • The Trix Rabbit. Who doesn't want him to get that cereal, kids watching the commercials included? The company has, at least once, run polls to see if he should get the cereal. When they do, the answer is inevitably "yes" in a landslide. And at least once, the rabbit has gotten his wish with no strings. There have been other times when he's gotten it only to discover he is missing something (like Milk, although that one was actually a Got Milk? ad). One time, the Trix rabbit was moping in front of a little girls' house, when she said she would be willing to give the rabbit Trix. The rabbit actually was able to eat a spoonful before the girl's big brother woke up and took it away.
    • Oddly, this had 2 versions. Originally, the girl is whispering the whole time, and the brother discovered them. For whatever reason, it was re-shot with the girl yelling "Be very quiet! We don't want to wake my big brother!", as if she's warning her brother to get in there before the rabbit eats too much.
      • My guess is that it was done to make the brother look less like a Jerkass for stopping his sister. Instead it just makes them both look even worse.


Anime and Manga

  • L from Death Note isn't exactly well-liked in universe (having literally no friends and no social skills), but he is probably the most popular character with the fandom. Even those who don't like him do tend to have respect for his professional abilities, though.
  • Bastion (Daichi) Misawa on Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is fairly popular among the audience, but is continually mistreated in the series. A recurring joke is that the other characters interrupt him without ever bothering to apologize. At one point in the second season, he threw an important duel once promised that he would be treated better if he lost. (Ironically, it was the only time he dueled the entire season, and he was treated even worse afterwards.)
  • Due to the constant demands by producers to make the show more humorous, the dubbed version of Digimon Adventure 02 had a lot of humor that poked fun at Davis' arrogant personality. Despite what you might think, he was still a Butt Monkey in the original though.
  • In the anime/manga series Tenjho Tenge, poor Masataka, despite being one of the most powerful characters in the series spends several of the early volumes being walked all over and generally mistreated by people, even if he could have beaten them with both hands tied behind his back. Fortunately, he starts to gain the respect of other characters as the series progresses, to the point where it is being hinted that he may be the key to resolving the plot of the entire series.
  • The title character of Inuyasha is immensely popular, but on the show he's picked on a lot.
  • Canada, in Axis Powers Hetalia, is ignored to the point of being invisible by pretty much all of the other nations. The fandom disagrees, and goes a long way to fix this "oversight," to the point where fanfic readers can barely recognize the original character.
  • No-one in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World likes Jinnai save for the Bugrom he commands. But he's so entertainingly Laughably Evil that he's one of the more popular characters outside of the show.
  • Kururu/Kululu from Keroro Gunsou is supposedly the most unpopular character in the anime when mentioned in-universe excluding Dororo because no one remembers him, and the narrator nags him occasionally for having a "bad personality". In reality, Kururu is often considered the most outstanding character in the whole show, and the negative in-universe attention has potential to bring in would-be fans/intensify preexisting fan-ism. They all seem to forget that his personality makes it rather just; would you hang out with a perverted, near-sadistic FROG?
    • However, he's only popular outside Japan, making this slightly more justified.
  • Ali al-Saachez of Gundam 00 is loathed by every single character on the show who is not paying him for something at the time. The fans? They're the ones singing "Prince Ali! Mighty is he!"
  • Kanetsugu Naoe from Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls can't win the respect of anyone in the show, often being ignored, beaten up, or both. In a poll taken before the anime began, she was the winner, and when the show aired, she earned the love of the fanbase for her delusional persistence.
  • An example of this working to the character's benefit is Jeremiah Gottwald, the Ensemble Darkhorse of Code Geass. While he gets treated like crap in the first season, both the fans and the show's makers adored him, which inspired the writers to change his story arc from an early death to taking several levels in badass and undergoing a Heel Face Turn to join forces with protagonist Lelouch before finally receiving one of the few unambiguously happy endings out of the entire cast.
    • Similar to Jeremiah is Patrick Colasour from Mobile Suit Gundam 00, who underwent a very similar character arc (Butt Monkey antagonist, hangs on by sheer persistence, eventually gets his happy ending).
      • Colasour was never intended as anyhting but a joke while Jeremiah was fairly villainous before his in-universe demotion
  • Chiri of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei is an Ax Crazy Neat Freak who doesn't receive a lot of in-series affection on account of those traits. Nearly everyone fears her, she's the only student that Nozomu seems to dislike, and in one instance, a public park is shown to have a sign prohibiting her from being there and disturbing the peace. However, she's one of the more popular characters in the series because of how crazy she is.
  • In Tiger and Bunny, Wild Tiger/Kotetsu Kaburagi's low popularity as a superhero is something of a Running Gag -- a stark contrast to the real world, where he's not only the most popular character of the show, but also of the entire Spring 2011 anime season.
  • Arguably Kanda from D.Gray-man. Because of his attitude not many characters apear to like him at all including Allen. Minor characters, such as finders, hate him and even the characters that do like him have a bit of an issue with his attitude. Despite this he is quite popular with fan girls...
  • Akari Akaza from Yuru-Yuri. She's constantly fighting against the world to get people aware of her existence (and hopefully not get hurt in the process), with only a scant few supporters, such as Sakurako. As for the fans, she always makes her way into show discussion precisely because of her lack of focus.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Sanosuke Sagara is one of the most popular characters in the series(he's placed second in all the popularity polls after Kenshin himself). Within the story, he's often subjected to The Worf Effect, and many characters don't quite respect him due to his Idiot Hero tendencies.
  • Tomoko Kuroki from Its Not My Fault I'm Not Popular. A shy Otaku girl with No Social Skills who gets into many humiliating situations because she, well, as the title may indicate, wants to be popular. Got quite the following on /a/, primarily for how close to home it hits. And how huggable the character is.


Comicbooks

  • Spider-Man, arguably the Trope Codifier: one of the most beloved and popular of all super heroes in real life, in addition to being Marvel's flagship character and mascot (or he used to be, anyway, if you consider Wolverine to be the current one); but widely feared and distrusted by the Marvel U. public with frustrating consistency. One of the key factors that made him such an effective Deconstruction of the Superhero at the time of his creation, it's become an integral part of his character to the point that he has it worse than pretty much anyone else in the Marvel U. (where practically everyone who isn't Captain America or Tony Stark has to deal with this, and even they have had their moments).
  • Scott Pilgrim, on his own comic book, is depicted as being the butt monkey of almost, if not all, of his friends, and his own girlfriend, Ramona, to the point that (being played for laughs), Stephen Stills told Knives Chau (Scott's previous short-term girlfriend, and stalker) that EVERYBODY hates Scott. To the reader, Scott is just a shy, cute, awkward, video gamer guy, who's trying to come out into the world. This is, however, later subverted, as we can see that Scott is, indeed, an ass, and deeply flawed by a lot of things, like ignoring past lessons, and mistreating his friends and loves a number of times. A lot of readers and fans took this personally, and some even started to outright hate him, even more than Ramona's evil exes. He's getting better and maturing, very very slowly, so the readers, and his friends, start to root for him and like him again.
  • Deadpool might be one of Marvel's most popular characters right now, but he's not liked by heroes and villains alike. He's one of the most talented mercenaries in the Marvel Universe (he beat Taskmaster with his hands cuffed behind his back) but he can barely get a job because of his bad reputation.


Films -- Live-Action


Literature

  • Fitz Kreiner of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe Eighth Doctor Adventures basically constitutes a subversion. All but one of the recurring protagonists are genuinely fond of him, and the only one who isn't doesn't like anyone but tolerates him more willingly than she does most people. It's just that they also see him as The Ditz and a Kavorka Man. Even the Doctor, who really does like him quite a bit, has been known to insult his intelligence to his face repeatedly over the course of a single conversation.[1] And it's not so much that he's an Ensemble Darkhorse; he gets good plotlines and is second in "screen" time only to the Doctor. He just is also accused of never taking an interest in anything he can't "drink, inhale, play, dance to or --" even though he totally does. He reads Sartre, for goodness's sake. And it's often said that he competes with the Doctor for popularity among the readers, who generally see him as The Woobie. So, basically, he's well-liked by the audience and the other characters, but the other characters all treat him like the Butt Monkey.
  • Mat Cauthon of The Wheel of Time is one of the most Badass and popular characters in the series, but he tends to be treated like dirt by many of the other characters, who still think of him as a lazy, Handsome Lech farmboy despite the fact that a few books in, he's a brilliant general, a supernaturally lucky low-level Reality Warper, is fated to marry the most powerful woman in the world, defeated two trained swordsmen with a Simple Staff, has an artifact that makes him immune to magic, invented cannons, and has a Nice Hat. This has a lot to do with the fact that most of his Character Development took place while everyone else was out doing their own thing, but he still doesn't get the respect he deserves until people see his awesomeness with their own eyes.
  • Edmund Pevensie gets this treatment in the first book of Chronicles of Narnia, in his family, but this is probably due to his... not-so-positive attitude. Still, this created his Anti-Hero status, which made him the most popular character in the series.
    • Still doesn't completely rectify the situation. Yes, Edmund is a pain in the ass - but many allegorical readings of the novel interpret him as Judas Iscariot, which is both ridiculous and unfair. Edmund had just met the White Witch and had no idea who Aslan was, so how was he supposed to know that the witch was evil, and how could he have betrayed Aslan?
      • He was betraying his brother and sisters, at least, he knew that. The author also says directly that Edmund did know, deep down, if only by instinct, that the White Witch was evil.
      • Admittedly, while he was already under the semi-Mind Control of the enchanted fruit.
  • Name one character in all of A Song of Ice and Fire who actually likes the Hound. Only Sansa is even slightly fond of him; every single other character (and there are many) thinks he's frighteningly unpleasant at best and a Complete Monster at worst. He doesn't get much luck from the author, either: a ridiculously awful childhood has led to a ridiculously brutal life and culminated in dying miserable and alone in the woods after unsuccessfully begging for a clean death and crying over thoughts of Sansa. Okay, probably not really dead, but still. Now ask the fandom how they feel about Sandor.
    • He does have a bone-throwing (no pun intended) moment in the first book -- the crowds at the Hand's Tourney in the first book go wild for him after he saves Loras from a mauling at the hands of Gregor.
    • Another from A Song of Ice and Fire: Tyrion. He does have a few friends and allies, but ultimately even they are either killed or abandon him, and everyone else... His father and sister despise him, the court finds him repulsive, and the common people call him things like "twisted little monkey" and very unjustly blame him for all the problems of the realm. Absolutely nothing works out well for Tyrion in the long run, even though he's very clever and is one of the few characters actually attempting to be heroic. Perhaps due both to his misfortune and his considerable wit, however, he's probably the most popular POV character among fans, and even the author himself.
      • Near-universal dislike of Tyrion in-univese is not entirely undeserved. He tends to aggravate his inherent social handicaps by needless bullying and asshattery whenever he feels himself in a position of power. Out of universe, though, his dick moments only add to his popularity, because he tends to be creative and entertaining when putting down others.
      • It helps that the fandom hates a lot of the people he puts down, such as Joffrey and Cersei. Especially his Imp-slapping of Joffrey.
    • While we are at Hounds let's not forget Brienne of Tarth, a lesser noble woman unfortunately born with a very manly appearance, who as only heir to her father took it up to become knight. In-universe she is constantly made fun of for her ugliness and not taken seriously as knight. Among the fans she is quite popular for her prowess as well as actually taking her vows and oaths as knight seriously, being among the very few to do so. Basically, the fandom has a soft spot for good characters who subvert the in-universe expectation that Beauty Equals Goodness.
  • Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter (though she is meant to be sympathetic) is a quiet, unpopular, bullied Cloudcuckoolander, and even the few who actually like her seem to find her more than a bit strange. Among the fandom, she's probably the only character just about everyone likes. Of course, she becomes quite popular in-story during Book 7, where she ends up one of the Big Damn Heroes alongside the likes of Neville Longbottom and Ginny Weasley.
    • Severus Snape is really unpopular in the books among his peers and students, but he's easily one of the most popular characters in the fandom.
  • Twilight Bella's Muggle "friends", Eric, Jessica, Angela, Mike, and Tyer, and her father, Charlie up to a point (the infamous Rape Kiss), are much more liked by casual fans and the Hatedom, since they aren't focused on as much, and recieved halfway decent characterization.
    • Also Leah, the only female werewolf. Everybody in-story seems to hate her, but the Hatedom especially will argue that she's the most Badass and well-developed character in the series.


Live-Action TV

  • Although a fan favorite, Seamus Harper of Andromeda was treated increasingly worse in each subsequent season, becoming the butt of stupid jokes and the target of the other characters' unwarranted hostility, even raped by Magog.
  • Radek Zelenka, from Stargate Atlantis, is a gifted scientist, but never got much respect from Rodney McKay, and by the fourth season, is not getting respect from anyone. Fans, however, like his capacity for comedy... and his ability to curse violently in Czech.
  • Xander Harris, Butt Monkey (and trope namer at that!) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • To a certain extent, Lucy of I Love Lucy by way of Values Dissonance. The viewers at home know that Lucy is immensely talented, and certainly worthy of being in Ricky's show... but is usually humiliated at the end of every Zany Scheme and is told to Stay in the Kitchen.
    • Just to clarify, it wasn't that (in-universe) a woman couldn't be a big star; it was that a woman couldn't be a big star and be a wife and mother at the same time. Contrast that with Ricky, who effortlessly juggled show business with the business of being a husband and father.
    • The series seemed to recognize this and tried to offer another explanation. During the Hollywood arc, Lucy turns down a chance at stardom after proving herself an immensely talented dancer, because she didn't want to repeat all the grueling hours of practice she went through as Ricky's dance partner. As for singing, although Lucille Ball was a decent singer herself, Lucy Ricardo was tone deaf.
  • Dr. Chase of House. Being The Woobie, incredibly gorgeous, and the first of House's underlings to get a case right when House got it wrong, he's quite popular in the fandom. But on the show he's routinely ignored, verbally abused, or even outright assaulted by House, and Chase's own parents weren't much better.
    • Third season has Chase getting incredible amount of character development. Every one of his negative actions is addressed and partly redeemed. He is deemed incompetent and stupid by House constantly? He rises up as the best of the three fellowship doctors in terms of diagnoses in the third season. He killed a patient season 2? He's the only fellow that didn't in 3. He betrayed House to the authorities in season 1? He doesn't after being built up as Judas for an entire episode, dismissed by House who is unwilling to listen to his explanations and untrusted by his co-workers, then punched in the face by the very man he is protecting and saving the life of a little girl because he doesn't back down. He's a kiss ass that will do anything House says? He finally stood up to House and gets fired for it, in a twisted ready-to-leave-the-nest way. Sleeping with Cameron while she was high on drugs? After she initiates a friends with benefits situation with him, he's the one that wants something more and courts her in the most non-threatening, yet persistent manner he can (flowers and the weekly reminder that he cares about her, that's it). And he's still dumped on by most of the cast, has the least amount of screentime and is most often only a supporting character when he does show up.
  • Jerry from Parks and Recreation, although mostly rule of funny.
  • Almost identical to Jerry's case is Britta Perry from Community, a Phrase Catcher for "Ugh, you're the worst."
  • Omar Little on The Wire is an interesting case. The dealers hate him because he robs them and makes them look foolish and the cops hate him because he kills people and gets away with it. But the random people on the street love him because he's such a badass.
  • The central family from Malcolm in the Middle. In one episode, they discover that their entire neighborhood has a block party whenever they go on vacation.
  • Topher in Dollhouse. In universe, he's a bit of an Insufferable Genius, but the fangirls don't mind.
  • Sweets in Bones is a former child prodigy working for the FBI, but gets absolutely no respect because everyone on the show hates psychologists.
    • He did lose appeal with fans of the show because of his apparent lack of morals; he let Brennan believe that Booth was dead when he was in fact only undercover, just to see how she would react to the loss and to satisfy a psychological experiment. This not only fails basic morality, but is also an extreme violation of laws and ethics regarding psychiatry which, while allowing such experiments in research situations, absolutely forbids them on patients that you are treating. It is not just mean, it is illegal.
  • Steve Urkel in Family Matters is this. It's implied that not even his parents like him that much.
    • Although, in later seasons, Urkel became so annoying and overdone, that not even the fans really liked him very much anymore.
  • Benjamin Linus on Lost is a manipulative liar - he admits this quite cheerfully whenever the subject comes up - who sacrifices his own adopted daughter in a misguided attempt to hold on to his power (he thinks she can't be killed), is at least partly responsible for the deaths of many Dharma Initiative people, as well as personally responsible for his own father's death (an abusive drunk, but still...) and that of John Locke. Yet Ben became a fan favorite very quickly, and maintained that status right through the series finale, to the point that the showrunners gave him a major role in the DVD Boxed Set 'extra' epilogue.
  • All of the Bluths count technically, but special mention has to go to Gob, as even his own family don't really care for him.
  • Arnold Judas Rimmer.
  • Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory is seen as the weirdest nerd out of the whole group by far, which is really saying something, but he is also very popular with the fans, much more so than the creators intended.


Newspaper Comics


Professional Wrestling

  • This trope has been a staple of pro wrestling at least since the 1990s, especially insofar as the heels are concerned. During the "Attitude Era", WWE began to increasingly give its heels gimmicks that were more frightening or politically incorrect than they had had before - but, surprisingly, many fans found these gimmicks entertaining rather than repellent, and cheered on the heels, forcing WWE to convert these characters into faces in-universe as well. That's how Stone Cold Steve Austin became a huge fan favorite, (and to a lesser extent The Rock) not to mention Randy Orton in our own era.
  • Zack Ryder, who as a result not only enjoyed a Heel Face Turn but jumped more than a few rungs on the WWE card seemingly overnight.


Video Games

  • Luigi from Super Mario Bros. tends to be neglected by the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom and Bowser and his men, apparently the entire population of the Beanbean Kingdom, Colonel Campbell...
    • It's also of note that Luigi is explicitly presented as a man who's far less popular than his older sibling, Mario. This goes so far as to suggest Luigi is constantly in Mario's shadow, that he is the King of Second Bananas. Interestingly enough, there is a great population of Mario fan site members who increasingly favour Luigi because he is less popular. Ironically, this generally has Luigi garnering more votes than Mario in the typical fan poll, suggesting that Luigi is more popular than his 'more famous' sibling.
    • It's been theorized that his increased popularity is a result of his being explicitly written as King Of Second Bananas. Constantly living in his brother's shadow and never being able to stand apart from his brother on his own accomplishments has made him neurotic, given him an inferiority complex, and (if Brawl is anything to go by) driven him quite mad. This makes him a much more complex and interesting character, especially when placed next to his squeaky-clean, middle-of-the-road, whitebread brother.
    • AND he can jump higher!
    • In fact, a lot of Luigi's problems in universe, especially in the Paper Mario games, is that he can be as good as Mario, but nobody gives him a chance.
    • And a lot of nerds can identify easily with the unpopular, neglected Cowardly Lion. The fact that he overcomes these traits at times like Luigis Mansion also helps.
  • Similarly, Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise is often a "victim" of this, especially in Sonic the Comic.
    • Knuckles seems to be leaning into this area as well due to recent Flanderization. He's bitterly jealous of Sonic and his dopiness and lack of "team ethics" has even Cream the Rabbit making snide remarks at him at times, neverless he has a fanbase nearly as big as the hedgehog himself (granted however, Knuckles was an Ensemble Darkhorse even before his transition into a Butt Monkey). Starting around Sonic Colors, however, Flanderization has fully taken its toll, and his popularity out of universe has declined for his current incarnation.
    • Same for Dr Eggman, especially in Sonic X, where the poor guy's really just an Attention Whore at heart. Even moreso in the Sonic X comic series from Archie.
  • Yosuke from Persona 4 is liked enough amongst most fans. It's not uncommon for him to end up as the butt of a joke. It's a different story when the laughter stops: See any scene involving Saki.
  • Raven from Tales of Vesperia. At best, everyone tolerates him. Usually, the party members are disgusted by his antics, mostly because he's a Dirty Old Man and refuses to act his age. Most of the time they don't even call him Raven; they just call him, "old man".
    • He's still one of the group until the end, though. They even Easily Forgiven for kidnapping Estelle and turning her over to Alexei.
  • Lots of Touhou butt monkeys abused by the fandom, notably Hong Meiling, Cirno, and Reisen Udongein Inaba.
    • Tenshi Hinanai too, but only because she likes it.
    • More recently, Kogasa Tatara has become an epic example of this. She is pathetically weak, doomed to failure at every turn and every other character either ignores or mocks her. The fandom, however, has declared her to be the new youkai moe~ and love her intensely.
    • Arguably, part of the reason some fans want to see the PC-98 characters return from being BrotherChucked is because...they were Brother Chucked.
  • Dan Hibiki from Street Fighter. The essential Joke Character, treated like a fool by everyone, and he's still one of the more popular characters. YAHOOEY!
  • Bang Shishigami from Blaz Blue. Everyone in-universe (except Hakumen for some reason, and later eventually Litchi) just thinks this Hot-Blooded Boisterous Bruiser Large Ham Ninja is senile. But amongst the fandom, he's an M-Rated Memetic Badass.
  • Tsukihime: Isn't it sad, Sacchin? But we love you.
  • Serra from the seventh Fire Emblem. No-one likes her at all unless you engage Supports, yet she's very well-liked by fans.
  • Lemina from Lunar 2 is loud, pushy, money-grubbing, has her fair share of blonde moments, and is somewhat lacking in integrity from time to time (despite her respectable long term goals). She's sometimes viewed as a slight annoyance by the rest of the group, and certainly by people outside of it. This troper has never met a Lunar fan that didn't like her.
  • Final Fantasy 7's Yuffie, though certainly not without justification seeing as how she's a thief that attacked the party and tried to trick them after the fight. If you head to her home town, it'll turn out that the party was right to be suspicious. She steals your materia and you have to get it back from her. She joins you on the straight and narrow from then on, though, and by the end some of the group have grown attached to her, such as Red XIII (the only one to point out she's missing when the group re-unites before the final dungeon) and Cloud (who welcomes her back when she actually comes.)
  • Nippon Ichi: Asagi. Her entire story is that she cameos in other games (or tries to take them over completely) because her own game got cancelled. Yet she was number two on an official popularity poll. She's practically a mascot at this point.

 Laharl: Aren't you happy, Flonne? There's someone even dumber than you.

  • Fukushima Masanori is one of the better known historical Japanese generals, leader of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake, and one of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's finest (and wasn't reported to be as brutal as his fellow general Katou Kiyomasa, who takes anti-Christianiy Up to Eleven). However, whenever he makes appearance in KOEI games (Samurai Warriors, Ace Attorney-like game Saihai no Yukue), he is usually portrayed as a bumbling fool nearing The Scrappy level to possibly make Ishida Mitsunari (main protagonist of the latter game) look good. Koei truly hates Masanori.
  • Norman Jayden from Heavy Rain definitely qualifies. The poor guy is abused by every police officer in the game, constantly getting the shit beaten out of him, and doesn't have a single happy ending But he's easily the most popular character outside of the game.
  • Tingle is one, but only in Japan. Even his own father hates him.
  • From the Punch Out series:
    • Glass Joe. He may be the ultimate Jobber with more defeats than most champions have victories, but he will always be the champion in players' hearts.
    • Aran Ryan (at least in the Wii version) is a complete psycho who breaks all the rules and is greeted with a chorus of boos from the in-game audience. He also happens to be one of the most popular characters.
  • Danganronpa; this applies to Kiyotaka Ishimaru and Miu Iruma, who are canonically The Friend Nobody Likes to most of the cast, but are incredibly popular outside of it. Conversely, Fat Bastards Hifumi and Teruteru, who in-universe get a similar reaction to Miu, are despised in the fanbase. (this is also due to Hifumi killing the aforementioned Kiyotaka and Teruteru drugging Hajime)

Webcomics

  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath Belkar in Order of the Stick is a casually murderous jerk with no real loyalty to his companions, and the feeling is definitely mutual, as they only keep him around because he's useful/can be "aimed" at the villains. Readers on the other hand love his antics, some so much that they gave him the Draco in Leather Pants treatment (such as in insisting he's Chaotic Neutral even though he's canonically identified as Chaotic Evil on multiple occasions).
  • Black Mage of 8-bit Theater is an ugly, smelly, rude, wanted Omnicidal Maniac who sacrifices orphans for fun and the only person who likes him is too stupid to know any better. Even the universe hates him. Yet he is the comic's most popular character.
    • King Steve also applies, having approval ratings so low the majority of people would rather die than have him rule.
  • Rebecca Sue McKay of Shadowgirls is treated like dirt by just about everyone at school because of the circumstances surrounding her birth. Fans of the book, however, want to give her a great big platonic bear hug whenever she's feeling down.
  • Kali of Enjuhneer was created as a literalization of the "invisible roommate," but the author has mined her abilities for so many jokes that at times she practically feels like a second main character.


Web Originals

  • Ma-Ti in That Guy With The Glasses, in-'verse, is ranked somewhere between 'object of pity' and 'The Scrappy' by his compatriots unless he's packing heat. In fandom, he's a Woobie of epic proportions and is usually paired off with at least one hot chick by the end of the fic.
    • They seem to be aware of this though, since in Kickassia, while Ma-Ti was only in it for one scene (partially because the actor did not want to be typecast), he gets to call The Nostalgia Critic out on his douchbaggery, cementing his place as an Ensemble Darkhorse.
    • As of Suburban Knights, Ma-Ti finally got his due. Sure, he died, but he died being AWESOME.
  • Nella, the most adorable Woman Child ever, gets paid to be treated like shit in The Nostalgia Chick's show. When she turned into Dark Nella and got some modicum of payback, the fandom cheered like they were at a football match.
  • Strong Sad in Homestar Runner. The King of Town became this, but didn't start out that way (he was more The Scrappy when he was only focusing on food, and became funnier when he started to also focus on fixing his own unpopularity.)
  • Red vs. Blue: Caboose. One of the most disrespected characters on the show. The most popular character among the fandom.
    • Another example is Agent Washington. The Reds and Blues dislike and mistrust him, not only because he's a Freelancer, but also because of how clear he makes it that he's only interested in what they can do for him, not in their well-being. Even among the Freelancers, where he's more well-liked, he still doesn't get much respect, as he's got one of the lowest combat ratings of the group. Yet he's a very popular character among the fans.
  • Epic Mickey: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit leans a bit into this trope. In the game, he's portrayed as a vengeful and jealous antihero regarding Mickey's popularity. Though he improves, he's constantly pained with the knowledge that Mickey received his fame. In Real Life, Oswald's inclusion in Epic Mickey was one of the key aspects which drew people into the game, and he has a solid fanbase in Japan.


Western Animation

  • Squidward Tentacles is one of the most infamous examples of this trope, being berated, loathed, disrespected, and even assaulted by the rest of the characters, yet is widely considered to be the most sympathetic character on the show, especially during seasons 6-8.
  • One long-running example is Looney Tunes character Daffy Duck, whose escalating rivalry over the years with Bugs Bunny was balanced by the audience knowledge that Daffy actually was very funny.
    • Interestingly Daffy has been used more and more by Warner Bros. in recent years, often with Bugs not even appearing in various works, or only playing a minor role.
  • Disney's Donald Duck fared similarly, although this probably had more to do with his general bad luck; heck, it's right there in his theme song.
  • Zoidberg from Futurama is the perfect example. On the show he is often literally told that he is hated by the cast. However many fans love the character of Zoidberg.

 Fry: They sure hate Dr. Zoidberg.

Bender: Pft. Posers! I was hating Zoidberg before it was cool.

  • Meg Griffin on Family Guy. Despite (or maybe because) being a rather blatant Butt Monkey (although less from season 8 onwards) she has lots of fans, many pictures of her in deviantart and lots of stories of her in fanfiction.net.
    • Many of her fans have started using the slogan "I support Meg Griffin, because nobody else does."
    • Proving this trope, Meg didn't become a popular character until the rest of the cast started treating her like crap. Up until then, she was actually rather unpopular for being a rather bland, typical teenage girl character.
  • The Simpsons are arguably Unpopular Popular Characters. In the episode "Simpson Safari", this subtle exchange occurs:

 Homer: The Simpsons are going to Africa!

Family: Yay!

(In Africa, two tribesmen dance around a fire. Suddenly, one of them stops)

Tribesman: What is it, N'gungo?

N'gungo: Evil is coming.

Tribesman: What shall we do, N'gungo?

N'gungo (puts his mask on the other tribesman's head): You are N'gungo now! (runs away screaming)

    • Also, when Marge is ready to propose an idea in the Town City Hall, the townspeople groan and mutter in exasperation.
    • Looking over the entire course of the series, it is clear that the Simpsons aren't necessarily any worse than the other families in Springfield; they are simply cursed to either suffer bad luck or to bring bad luck to others, as seen in "Treehouse of Horror III" (specifically, the "Monkey's Paw" segment) and "Homer's Enemy."
  • Kenny from South Park is one of these; killed off on a regular basis for five seasons, bullied and insulted by all of his friends, and generally treated like dirt. Of course, as soon as he was Killed Off for Real, the fans were in uproar, and he was back for good by the end of the season.
    • Subsequently, the character of Butters has taken Kenny's place as the fan-loved, but terribly treated character.
    • According to Craig in "Pandemic," the entire main cast qualifies as this. Cartman, being a sociopath, comes as no surprise, but Stan and Kyle are disliked because of their propensity towards getting involved in Zany Scheme after Zany Scheme that end up with them getting shot into space or stranded in Peru, which: A) only happens to them, out of all the children in South Park, and B) is their fault, according to -- well, everyone in South Park.
  • Xandir of Drawn Together is largely the show's Butt Monkey, being on the receiving end of all kinds of abuse by the other characters, particularly Captain Hero. However, in the fandom, he's far and away the most popular character on the show; just go to any Drawn Together message board or fan community and check out how much Xandir traffic there is compared with the other characters.
  • Jack Spicer from Xiaolin Showdown. An Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain/Butt Monkey, described by many as being the funniest character on the show, and even having a few fan girls.
    • A few? He's probably the character who has the most fangirls after Raimundo, who is probably the next character who gets picked on next after Jack Spicer.
  • Tootie from The Fairly Odd Parents is extremely popular with the fanbase, despite her position on the show. A decade into the show's life the creators seemed to have finally picked up on this, and elected to make her one of the main characters of the live action Fairly Odd Movie.
  • Dib from Invader Zim, the most unloved and abused character in the show. Everyone hates him...and yet, he's the second or third most popular character. (The most popular being GIR by far.)
  • Cody on Total Drama Island, to the point you can't really mention the Total Drama series without SOMEONE bringing him up.
    • Harold is also quite popular, despite being an eternal Butt Monkey in canon.
    • In a very different way Courtney might fit this too; in show she is very unpopular with most of the other contestants because of her bossiness. In real life, while not exactly universally popular she has one of the largest and most vocal fanbases.
    • Even moreso than Courtney is Heather. She's the most unpopular contestant on the show (until Alejandro at the end of World Tour), yet she has a very sizable fanbase, which has only increased with each passing season.
    • Also Ezekiel. In-universe people seem to find him annoying. In real life he has quite a notable fan base.
  • Johnny Bravo cannot get a girl on his home show, but there are plenty of chicks that would like to handle his bod in Real Life.
  • On Ka Blam!, Henry is pretty much the planet's punching bag. But of course, most of the fans want to pick him up and hug him.
  • Beavis qualifies as this during the Christmas Episode when during both the It's a Wonderful Life parody where Butt-Head learns he's now Stewart's sidekick and even protected from Butt-Head by helpful homeless people then during the "Letters to Santa Butt-Head" segments, Beavis gets increasingly more and better fanmail, much to Butt-head's annoyance.
  • Beast Wars example: As of the time of writing, he is at the bottom of this list, so once again he must ask, why universe hate Waspinator?
    • Considering he just beat out Jazz, Shockwave, and Erector for the fans' choice Transformers Hall of Fame induction, he seems to have it pretty good these days.
  • The episode "Stimpy's Fan Club" is this trope in spades. In the episode, Stimpy gets tons of adoring fan mail, while Ren gets none. Stimpy tries to cheer Ren up by making him the president of Stimpy's Fan Club, but this just drives Ren to new levels of psychosis (and for Ren, that's really saying something). The next week, Nickelodeon got a truckload of letters from children telling Ren they loved him too.
  • Furrball from Tiny Toon Adventures is an unwanted stray cat who is often abused and unable to find a home with anyone but Elmyra (who is the most frequent source of said abuse). His status as the show's resident Butt Monkey is epitomized in the lyrics to the opening theme, "Furrball's unlucky," complimented by a piano falling on him as he's happily sniffing a flower. Yet he's quite popular for a relatively minor character, with numerous fanart and fanfiction devoted to him. Being both a Ridiculously Cute Critter and The Woobie probably helps a lot, as quite a few YouTube commenters on his shorts express their desire to see him get a home. To say nothing of the fans who want to see him "get lucky" in the form of a certain purple skunkette from the same show...
  • Everyone in American Dad! finds Roger annoying, but he's the second most popular character in the show apart from Stan.
    • Second? Ask most American Dad! fans, they'll probably tell you he's their number one favorite character due to his sheer insanity.
  • Wakko Warner from Animaniacs was intended to be this, as a joke about "Middle Child Syndrome," and it was explicitly mentioned a few times in regards to Dot's cuteness making her so much more popular with the fans. The truth of the matter was the exact opposite.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has Princess Luna. Within the show's universe, she comes to be accepted back after her exile, but many ponies seem to still be suspicious of her as seen in her spotlight episode. Outside of the show, however, she is one of the most popular characters, even beyond the Mane 6 (the main characters).
  • The Ice King from Adventure Time. And Lemongrab is turning out to be this very quickly, as any quick search on deviantART, Tumblr, or the Adventure Time Wiki could tell you. Both instances can be explained by the characters' Jerkass Woobie status, and the fact that both of them are mentally unstable yet hilarious and charismatic jerks.

Notes

  1. "'Yes, you know, you could be right. It is just possible,' he decided, tapping his chin with a long index finger, 'that your knack of stating the obvious is actually a talent bordering on genius.[...] But more likely, [...] it's just an annoying habit nurtured by your inability to grasp basic principles.'"
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