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Susan: Lemont, have you ever noticed how in comic strips and sitcoms, the men are usually clueless victims of life, while the women are wise and have their lives in order?

Lemont: Another bad day at work Susan?

Susan: Why can't my life be like a f*ckin' comic strip!!!
Women Rolling Their Eyes

Y'know what, she should be The Smart Guy of the team, but she isn't.

More times than ever, female member(s) of a group, be it a married couple, siblings, or just Better as Friends, are often portrayed as inherently better grounded than the male members: more rational, more reasonable, more level-headed and sensible, and often morally superior.

Note that this trope is not about any specific instance of individual female characters being particularly sensible, but about depictions in which female characters are automatically placed in a more positive light than their male counterparts. This specific kind of Positive Discrimination is most common in comedy, but occasionally turns up in other genres, and like all forms of Positive Discrimination may also be applied to the token minority as well.

Compare Females Are More Innocent, Mother Nature, Father Science and Mars and Venus Gender Contrast. Often combined with Ugly Guy, Hot Wife. My Beloved Smother is an inversion. Opposite Tropes to Men Are Better Than Women.

Examples of Women Are Wiser include:


Advertising

  • It's common in commercials for a woman to represent the advertiser's product, while a man represents the competition. The woman patiently explains or demonstrates the superiority of the advertiser's product to the clueless man. This is especially pronounced in cleaning product ads that air during the day, which are targeted at housewives.


Anime and Manga

  • Averted in Berserk. While Casca may apply at first, being the sole female among a band of mercenaries and being among the most level-headed of the group, she quickly grows morally conflicted and develops a more realistic persona by the end of the Golden Age arc, which doesn't deprive her of being extremely capable.
  • Nami, the navigator of the Strawhat pirates in One Piece, often has to express common sense since few of her crewmembers, especially her captain Luffy, possess it. On the other hand, Nami has her own blind spots (such as the promise of wealth) and has to be reeled in by the others in turn.
    • Robin, in turn, possesses common sense in spades and lacks the quirks (Robin has her own quirks too, they're just fairly subtle compared to the others') and Berserk Button tendencies that Nami has. She tends to stay cool and collected in almost any situation, even when her captain has them haring off on some utterly ridiculous course on a whim. The major difference between her and Nami is that, while Nami tends to try to show the rest of the group how ludicrous their actions are (sometimes coming off as the Only Sane Woman, Robin is perfectly content to sit back, smile, and read a book while Luffy makes plans to blast the ship and crew into the sky.
    • There is a standing rule in the series that Robin is the only character who is never given exaggerated or cartoony facial expressions. The rest of the crew will often have extreme reactions to whatever insanity they come across, but she maintains the same placid expression. This is less to show her as reasonable and more to emphasize her role as a detached-to-a-fault intellectual. Except on the rare occasions when she does show strong emotion.
  • In Detective Conan, Eri Kisaki is considerably more mature and businesslike then her almost-but-not-quite ex-husband Kogoro.
  • Averted - or possibly inverted - in Ouran High School Host Club. While at first Haruhi makes it seem like a straight case, it becomes clear that this is due to her possessing "commoner wisdom," which basically comes down to her not being able to treat life like a joke since she's not rich. Indeed, when we see her other friends and family, they are similarly grounded, even if they are bizarre in other ways. Other female characters, like Renge, and the Zuka club, tend to be even more extreme then their male counterparts.
  • Inverted in Sailor Moon, one of the most rational, intelligent, mature, and grounded characters is The One Guy Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask.
  • Played with somewhat with Cardcaptor Sakura, most females are high spirited and extremely kindly Moes or outright borderline Purity Sues, most males are somewhat arrogant Jerks With A Heart Of Gold. A handful of exceptions exist (Meiling, Ruby Moon and Yukito). Granted however a few of the females (particularly Sakura) are also suggested to be somewhat ditzy and naive in tone though given most of their ages this could be considered realistic.


Comic Books

  • Played straight in The Spectacular Spider-Man. Of the series Three Amigos, it is Gwen Stacy who is the most observant and concerned for Harry. Of course the characters are from a very old comic book series, so this can be excused.
    • Though, in the comics, the characters portrayed weren't entirely like this (Gwen especially), mostly because they had their own problems that separated them from Earth. Up until One More Day the role was held by Mary Jane Watson Parker, who had her own share of problems as well.
  • Averted in Y: The Last Man - after the gendercide that wipes out all but two of the male population of Earth, there are plenty of women around who act in a venal, selfish and destructive fashion towards their fellow women; of the main characters, the female characters aren't always morally superior to the male character, either. The pervasive nature of this trope is lampshaded when the male character admits that he's surprised that a female-dominated society didn't abolish war and usher in an age of peace and "standing around in circles holding hands singing 'Kumbaya'." He may have been holding a conversational Idiot Ball at the time, but on the other hand, it was Yorick, and it was a Brian K. Vaughan comic...
  • Laurie of Watchmen, also the only major female character in the main cast, is often the one with the most realistic and logical perspective. She is not bogged down with extreme views of justice like Rorschach is, holds a negative view on irrational behaviour (such as Jon wanting to leave humanity to die and Dan's desire to help Rorschach in spite of his horrid behaviour). Subverted in that she's also extremely stubborn and at times self-delusional, refusing to see the truth that the Comedian was her father when she had enough evidence and the detective skills to put it all together herself. She can also be weak-willed (her repeated attemps to quit smoking always end in failure). Let's just say that in Watchmen no one is spared dysfunction.
  • A truly infuriating example of this trope occurred in the Italian Paperinik comics: at one point, the creators of Paperinik decided to give him a Distaff Counterpart and thus gave Daisy Duck her own superhero identity of Paperinika. Naturally, a great deal of stories involved them working together. Unfortunately, not only did they end up constantly bickering and hating each other in their secret identities, which was annoying enough on its own, but every time they were together, Paperinik suddenly lost all competence and reverted to Jerkass bungling Donald Duck in a costume. Seeing as the whole point of Paperinik's creation was responding to fans complaints that Donald was always a Butt Monkey loser, the fans were not pleased at this development, leading to Italy axing Paperinika all together (though she is still used in the Brazilian comics).
    • Paperinika made a comeback in the recent Ultraheroes storyline, where all the major Disney comics superheroes teamed up. This time, though, she's been written as even more incompetent than Donald when the two get together; mainly because she is so driven to prove herself Paperinik's equal that she worries about that more than the job at hand, and they end up bickering when they should be saving the day.

Film

  • Played straight with Bob and Helen Parr's reaction to forced retirement from Superhero Life in The Incredibles. To be fair Helen does not seem wholly content herself while Bob's job aggravates the situation.
  • Mirror Mask:
    • Morris and Joanne Campbell of . To quote the book version, "Dad's got his head in the clouds. Mum's got her feet on the ground."
    • Also Helena and Valentine; Helena is intelligent, friendly, and mostly fair to everyone she meets. Valentine, while very likable, is rather scheming and often self-centered.
    • This is shown again by the floating giant couple, whose balance keeps them in equilibrium; when they become uncoupled the female sinks into the ground while her mate helplessly floats away.
  • Most of the women in Judd Apatow movies. The immature, lazy, pot-smoking dudes have to learn to be mature like the ladies (and if the women aren't this they're crazy whores).
    • This extends to pretty much all characters Katherine Heigl plays now. The poster for Life as We Know It has Josh Duhamel walking around in a nappy.
  • In Predators lone female character Isabella is the group conscience and team builder.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Astrid may not be the innovative inventor that Hiccup is, but she is very perceptive and can deliver a good Armor-Piercing Question to get him out of his funk in his Darkest Hour.
  • In the 1999 original cut and 2000 updated rerelease versions of Yonggary, the titular monster (a female) outsmarts the US Military a few times in both versions and even the aliens in the former.


Jokes

  • The epitome of this trope is a joke where three men get a genie and they each get one wish. The first man wishes to become ten times smarter and the second man wishes to become a hundred times smarter. The third man wishes he was a thousand times smarter... and turns into a woman.

Literature

  • Michael Crichton's Disclosure is entirely built around inverting this trope, with a piggish and sexually abusive female boss as the primary antagonist.
  • Played annoyingly straight in Bernard Werber's short story "Un jour, il n'y aura que des femmes sur terre" (One day, there will only be women on Earth), in which the protagonists sees glimpses of the future in which all men died after a nuclear explosion, and genetically engineered women who reproduce asexually go on the form a perfect society free of wars, famine, envy, living closer to Mother Nature. Never mind the fact that, in the story's present, women are just as prone, if not more so, to jealousy, bursts of rage and violence than men.
  • G. K. Chesterton's heroines have a tendency to be more sensible than his heroes. While they can rise to the occasion in times of crisis, they have much higher standards than his heroes for what qualifies as a crisis. This was also very much a conscious belief held by Chesterton.
  • Frankenstein, though this largely depends on which version you read. In the original 1818 edition Victor is cold, callous and foolish, but his father Alphonse is the perfect father and his friend Clerval is the perfect youth, full of life and vibrance. The second version turns Victor himself much more sympathetic, and Elizabeth is turned into a Purity Sue.
  • In Mario Puzo's book, The Godfather says it specifically. He says women have no head for business "though no doubt they will be saints in heaven while we men burn in hell."
  • Referenced in Robin McKinley's Spindle's End: In the country where the story is set, there's a folk belief that queens are more level-headed and generally better rulers than kings, and this belief is deeply ingrained enough that the local evil magicians go to the trouble of casting a lot of spells to make the royal line hardly ever produce female heirs.
  • Aina from Twilight Dragon, especially in comparisson to her potential love interest, Trowa.
  • Sister Light, Sister Dark: the women of the Hames
  • In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, in the Battle Couple of Red and Penny, Penny does the prudent thing: argue they should contact their boss when the heroes show up unexpectedly, persuade Red not to fight after their boss dies, etc.
  • This is one of the primary differences between witches and wizards in Discworld, particularly in the way they use magic. Wizards tend to be flashy and theatrical and have a social structure based on academia; witches have more sensible, practical magic and more commonly take on the roles of local midwives or herbalists.
  • Played straight with Molly and Arthur Weasley in Harry Potter. Molly is the disciplinarian and essentially the person who runs everything. Though Arthur is shown to be capable when it comes to emergencies. Ron and Hermione are a subversion where even if Hermione is more empathic and sensible than Ron she is also highly neurotic and emotional as well as panicking very easily. Harry and Ginny are another subversion as they are both suggested to be equal in terms of personality.
  • In Sharon Creech's Ruby Holler, twins Dallas (daydreamy guy) and Florida (grouchy, realistic girl) play this straight. The other two main characters, old couple Tiller and Sairy, avert this: Tiller is the solider and less capricious one, while Sairy is the reckless daydreamer. As a result of this, Tiller bonds with Florida and Dallas grows close to Sairy.
  • The book that arguably invented this trope was the ground-breaking and wildly successful 1740 English novel Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. England in 1740 was a country poised on the cusp of change. With coffee houses, libraries, newspapers, brightly lit and crowded streets, London had become (or at least thought itself) the center of the world. A newly rich and enterprising merchant class was emerging. The British navy ruled the waves (and in that year the song Rule Britannia was written). Intellect, science and reason had triumphed over superstition. Corruption and bribery reached record highs, and charity sunk to an all-time low, as did religious belief. Perhaps something had been lost. That was the world for which Samuel Richardson wrote Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. The novel's Mr B (his name is never given) is, as Richardson saw things, the typical pampered self-indulgent aristocrat of that era. From earliest childhood, he has been given whatever he wants. When Pamela Andrews, a girl from a poor family, comes to work as a servant, he falls in lust and decides to have his way with her. There's a lot of juicy detail: he has the girl kidnapped, taken to a lonely castle guarded by a muscular and violent Lesbian; later, he comes there late at night to rape her....it's a wonder the book wasn't banned. But the novel's plot in short and sans detail is that she refuses, he offers her money, she still refuses, and in the end he falls in love and marries her. Nobody married for love in 1740. If you were a Duke with little money, you married your son off to the daughter of a Baron with a lot of money; if you were a rich merchant, you kept your eyes open for an impoverished Baron who might want your daughter. Richardson tried to show that love marriage was possible, even desirable, that Pamela's intelligence, high moral level and kindness would make her a far better wife than the wealth and pedigree of a nobleman's daughter. And that is the reason that he made Pamela Andrews morally superior, smarter, and far far closer to Earth than the man she married.
  • Anisja compared to Sachar, Olga to Oblomov (not that hard).


Live Action TV

  • Monica and Chandler in Friends. Ross' ex-wife also wins every argument/disagreement the two ever have, despite having cheated on him in their former relationship.
    • Monica and Chandler actually flip-flop on this. Chandler gets to be the sensible one every now and again because of Monica's obsessive and extremely competitive behavior.
      • Chandler is almost always the more practical of the two, it's just that Monica tends to get her own way because of her constant nagging.
        • I wouldn't go that far. Chandler has extreme issues with commitment that often caused issues for them prior to their marriage. But it is pretty even, because of Monica's aforementioned OCD nature.
    • Ross on the other hand, seems to be on the losing end of every major relationship in the series.
      • I don't know if Ross is always on the losing end of every argument in his relationships. I mean, they really were on a break.
      • And as the guy on the airplane agreed, it so obviously wasn't.
        • To be fair Rachel was often depicted as a spoiled self righteous ditz that often had little upper ground over Ross (or destroys any she has by doing something equally idiotic, eg. she was definately the victim after Ross' secretly continued their accidental marrage, but then inadvertantly prevented their official annulment by labelling Ross as a homosexual adulterer on the official forms out of spite). A lot of her superiority was caused by The Unfair Sex or Ross' more frequent Butt Monkey tendacies, though even then the show often pointed out she wasn't exactly an innocent party either.

 Ross: You've done a lot of stupid stuff, too, okay?

Rachel: Oh, name one stupid thing that is as stupid as this one.

Ross: Okay, how about you flew to London to stop my wedding? Ah, how about you told me you loved me after I was already married?

Rachel: Wait a minute! That was different, I did those things because I was in love with you.

Ross: Yeah, right! *awkward silence* You're right, that's very different.

  • Alan and his ex-wife in Two and A Half Men. She is infinitely more mature and capable than her loser ex-husband. When she goes up against Alan's brother Charlie, he may get his way sometimes but she is still portrayed as the one with the level-headed opinion in the argument.
  • Archie and Edith Bunker in All in The Family.
    • Only kinda-sorta. Edith was certainly more moral and friendly then Archie, but she was also rather airheaded. Archie was smarter, but it came down to the same with Edith ultimately being the one who put Archie in his place when he went too far.
  • Tim and Jill Taylor in Home Improvement, especially in the earlier seasons. This was softened a bit as the series went on, and Jill had several of her own moments of incompetence. For example, when Al's mother passed away, Jill's advice only makes things worse while Tim is more comforting and practical.
  • Debra and Ray Romano in Everybody Loves Raymond takes this Up to Eleven.
    • Another odd aversion as it's not always a case of her being right, but her simply being louder, especially in the later seasons.
  • Both played straight and completely subverted, averted, and parodied in The George Lopez Show, which has Angie often be the Closer to Earth counter to George's impulsiveness, but she is in no way always right have the best way of doing things; she may be the more sensible, but she is also overly optimistic and somewhat naive, while George lacks foresight but, while overly cynical, is more of a realist.
  • Charmed inverted it early on with Piper and Leo's relationship where Piper is the neurotic and obsessive one while Leo often has to try and calm her down most of the time. However Leo gets baggage of his own in later seasons making them both disasters.
  • ICarly: Played straight with Carly and Spencer, with Carly being the Closer to Earth and Spencer impulsive and occasionally stupid, Gender Flip with Freddie and Sam, with Freddie being the Only Sane Man most of the time, with Sam being a destructive force of nature.
    • That means Carly and Freddie are the ones Closer to earth, then?
  • Lizzie McGuire plays it totally straight. "Calm down, Matt, we're just trying to fool dad. It's not like we're trying to fool mom!" Jo is often dorky, but is nearly always right, especially in comparison to Sam.
    • However, between Lizzie herself and Gordo, Gordo is usually the sensible one.
      • Lizzie is the sensible one between her and Matt, though. Also played straight with Matt and his girlfriend.
  • Played straight both ways in The King of Queens, where Doug is foolish and impulsive, but Carrie is somewhat immoral (or at least self serving) and brash, and, in episodes that showcase each's flaws, the other will be the Closer to Earth.
  • Deputies Kimball and Johnson (Reno 911) are arguably the most competent officers on the force, having almost made actual arrests, while Williams tends toward oblivious and Weigel is a headcase. The men are also fairly incompetent, including Lieutentant Chew Toy.
    • That's not saying much. Everyone is almost always ridiculously, over the top incompetent they only seem better when compared to the people they deal with. However, everyone, except maybe Weigel, gets several moments of actual intelligence.
  • Inverted in Sister Sister. Ray is sensible, and Lisa is more impulsive and reckless.
  • Inverted by Maria's parents Alan and Chrissie in The Sarah Jane Adventures where Alan is the morally superior one. Of course Sarah Jane Smith is more of a dependable mother figure than Chrissie and is a good mother to her own adopted son, so it's not like the show is devoid of a moral mother.
    • Inverted again by Rani's parents. Gita is well-meaning and sweet, but she comes off as The Ditz, and the less said about how she handles her encounter with aliens, the better. Haresh is the grounded, reasonable but Strict Teacher and rock of the family, and in contrast to his wife, takes the alien encounter in stride and doesn't obsess over it.
    • Elsewhere in the Whoinverse, let's look at the parent show, Doctor Who. The Doctor's female companions are often more sensible when compared to the Doctor, but when the latter is an alien who periodically wears celery and bowties, doesn't quite understand human social ques and who's in show nick-name is "the Mad Man With a Box", that's not really hard.
  • On the The Honeymooners, Ralph and Alice.
  • Turk and Carla of Scrubs. Nine times out of ten, any problems that arise in their relationship are caused by Turk. On the rare occasion that Carla is the cause of the problem, she'll get her way anyway. For example, an episode where Carla learned that she had to compromise with Turk instead of making all the decisions herself ended with her getting the car she wanted anyway; that's right: in the end, Turk was the one who made the compromise.
    • It's not that Turk actually causes the relationship problems, more that Scrubs runs on The Unfair Sex. The moral laws of the show seem to contain one stating that relationships are about making the female happy, without real or balanced regard for male happiness. Dr. Kelso definitely gets more from his marriage than his wife, yes, but primarily by keeping several mistresses at once and patronizing Southeast Asian whores. Dr. Cox actually leaves a happy (but new) relationship to get back together with his ex-wife when she announces that she got pregnant off of a Greek pool-boy (though it did eventually turn out the baby was in fact Dr. Cox's), though in a minor subversion Dr. Cox is portrayed as genuinely happy with this state of affairs in the later seasons.
  • This was the original plan with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, with Dee being the comparitively sane voice of reason in the gang, but the actress Kaitlin Olsen insisted that she be given as many wacky hijinks to do as the guys.
  • In Black Books, Fran likes to think that she's more sophisticated and superior to Bernard and Manny, but she's ultimately just as bad as Bernard, and in many ways worse. Of the three, Manny's actually the nicest and most decent person which, of course, just means that the other two ruthlessly exploit him.
  • Averted in Extras, where Maggie's pretty dim compared to Andy (but probably brighter than Darren). She is, however, shown to be a bit nicer, especially after Andy's let fame go to his head a bit.
  • Dr. Cameron is often the voice of morality in House's medical team. However her morals are often a bit questionable.
  • Mostly subverted on Will and Grace, where Leo (and Will) are shown to be more down to earth than Grace, but near the end, when Leo has an affair during his Doctors Without Borders mission, she ends up saying no to the possibility that they may be able to work through it. While it was a pretty stupid thing he did, he was at least willing to try and fix things.
    • Grace's paranoia about Leo having an affair with his pretty coworker turned out to be true, however, this doesn't make her any more of a Closer to Earth woman. In fact, it just makes her neurotic.
  • Almost every relationship on That 70's Show is like this to a degree. Eric and Donna are the most obvious, while Kelso and Jackie are more a case of '"Do what I say and I'll sleep with you," as are Fez and Nina. Red and Kitty are a slight subversion, as she is shown to be far too idealistic and more easily misguided than the more cynical Red; not to mention a borderline Lady Drunk. Bob and Midge are something of an aversion, as they're both shown to be equally nuts.
    • It's fairly debatably how much of an a true example any of those really are. Also, That 70s Show features a complete inversion in the case of Jackie and Hyde, where he is the one who acts mature for both of them (and not by a long shot, either).
    • Sometimes Eric is the more practical one, telling Donna that she should just tell him when she wants him to do or not do something rather than "hinting" (Translation: Lying) and saying that everything is okay. He calls her out on this several times but always seems to acknowledge the pointlessness of his actions. As time goes on though their relationship is on more equal footing.
    • It was occasionally suggested that Mrs. Foreman was sometimes faking it to fulfill her social role. "You're making it really hard to pretend I don't know what you're talking about."
    • Red and Kitty are almost an inversion, but they are at any rate far more down to earth than the rest of the cast. Hyde is definitely the most mature of the main group, although Donna might be considered more down to earth. I'm not sure this trope really applies, although it would if we only considered Eric/Donna and Kelso/Jackie, and the later instance only because Kelso makes anyone look competent in comparison.
  • Inverted in Sugar Rush (TV). The father is well-meaning but weak-willed and somewhat in denial about the family's dysfunction, while the mother is a self-indulgent, irresponsible adulteress.
  • Averted in Pushing Daisies where both of the Official Couple are extremely nice albeit flawed people - Chuck (the woman, in case you didn't know) is a lot friendlier and eager to help people, but she can be a little self-centered, reckless and even vengeful in a way that Ned is not.
  • Inverted on Little House On the Prairie with the Olesons. Nels is an level-headed man who always does the right thing, but Harriet is petty and greedy.
  • Averted in Burn Notice, where Fiona is the most aggressive and violent of the trio.
    • First season, maybe. But these days she's becoming Michael's conscience, constantly reminding him that family and friends are more important than getting un-burned. Also, despite her enthusiasm for her job, she clearly knows her limits and when she is in over her head. She will discourage Michael from getting involved with people she feels are too dangerous for them to handle.
    • It still stays averted however, due to the fact that Sam is filling a similar role as Michael's logical anchor instead of moral, reminding him when he's acting paranoid or rash when they need to stop and think.
  • The first episode of Law and Order featuring Jack McCoy raises this trope; McCoy and Claire Kincaid are going after a female doctor who has been selling an All-Natural Snake Oil Spice Rack Panacea as a breast cancer cure, with the result that a woman has died. Claire expresses reluctance to pursue the matter criminally, arguing that the doctor is still engaging in research to cure breast cancer. McCoy argues that the doctor's still conning her patients by trying to sell them what she doesn't have and putting their lives in risk, and then bluntly accuses Claire of subscribing to this trope, suggesting that if the doctor had been a man Claire would be the first and most eager person calling for the criminal case.
  • Given an interesting twist in Castle in that it's Richard's daughter Alexis that's the most grounded one of the three generations living together, while Castle himself is a bedrock of common sense and maturity compared to his ex-wife and mother.
  • Played straight and to extremes in the "Lithia" episode of 1990s remake of The Outer Limits. A male soldier awakens in the near future from cryogenic hibernation to find that men have been completely wiped out by war and that only women remain, creating an Amazonian society. The women live in relative peace and harmony with each other, but the male soldier proceeds to make trouble, including getting several women killed while trying to steal items from other villages. It turns out that every male that has be rethawed has caused similar problems for the villagers, and that the women no longer trust the male sex, meaning Mercer will be returned to cryostasis.
    • The episode ends with an equally hamfisted moral from the narrator: "The differences between men and women have been debated among philosophers since recorded history began. If indeed males are, by their nature the aggressor, it is this quality that may one day be their undoing." Apparently the problems that arose had nothing to do with him being a trained, futuristic soldier several decades out of place in a communist, extremely primitive village. Nope, it's all about his gonads!
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we only saw Buffy's father a handful of times in the early seasons, but what little we did see of him indicated he was a genuinely caring, loving father to Buffy whose marriage to Joyce simply broke down, apparently not entirely the fault of either party. In later seasons, this appeared to be retconned to make her father a heartless bastard who ran off with his secretary to Spain and didn't care about his daughters or even about the fact that his ex-wife was dying, apparently solely because of this trope.
    • It was less due to this trope and more because Joss Whedon had decided that Joyce was to be killed off in season five, in order to force Buffy into the role of the responsible adult of her family; a major step in her development. This would have been impossible if her dad was still around, so he was written as a distant, uncaring asshole in order to facilitate the plot twist. Joss had this planned out before season 3 began; sure enough, season 3 is when Buffy's dad suddenly becomes a deadbeat.
      • On the other hand, Joss is hardly unwilling to kill characters off. Granted, he hates to do it offscreen, and he prefers betrayal to mourning as a source of suffering for main characters. Still, there's something going on here that's probably sex-based. And of course within the show, the most primal powers beneficial to humanity (closest to "earth") seem to be very much feminine.
    • Some of the relationships with male characters seem to reverse this. Xander was definitely more practical than Cordelia when they were dating, though it didn't really come up. He was also usually the sane one with Anya; this was irrelevant other than for her role as comic relief. (For example, unlike him, she had no visible need for a job, residence, or means of support for over a year - until she started acquiring them.) Oz was borderline more "together" than Willow at first, and Jenny Calendar was attracted to Giles as somebody firmly rooted. Still, when everybody gets their doses of trauma, the female characters tend to develop along the lines of this trope, while males are more prone to break down, often in directions which induce more pain for the females. This seems to be especially true for the most minor characters.
  • On the subject of Whedon, Firefly has Zoe as being more focused and responsible than her husband or even, at times, than Mal. Subverted in the case of Simon, who's a pretty reasonable and intelligent guy (unless it comes to girls, although Kaylee herself isn't much more reasonable on that level).
  • In Fawlty Towers, Basil and Sybil Fawlty operate on a level like this; they are both rather horrible and dysfunctional people, but Sybil has better social skills and is calmer in a crisis, whereas Basil is hopelessly lacking in both areas.
  • Granted, all of the correspondents on The Daily Show tend toward a certain degree of idiocy, but this dynamic can be pretty clearly seen during a lot of segments that deal with Samantha Bee's and Jason Jones's relationship (They are married in real life, as well).
  • Boy Meets World runs on this, going so far as to make an entire episode centered around the theory (ironically brought up by Eric) that "all men since the beginning of time have been idiots." In a special case, Cory and Topanga, the show's main couple, at first subverts it, then mercilessly plays it straight in the later seasons.
  • Subverted in Arrested Development. Though Michael expects Lindsey to be more grounded in reality than the rest of the family, most of the time she's just as bad. She does tend to see the error of her ways more often than the others, not that she learns from her mistakes.
  • Subverted in Being Human. Annie is somewhat ditzy, inclined towards crazy (if well-meaning) schemes, from which she often has to be talked down. Nina also tends to be more emotionally erratic than George, who's generally the Only Sane Man in the setting (though they both act as the other's moral compass on occasion, George tends to be more honest about it.) Played straight-er with Mitchell, who starts losing control of his life as of the end of season one and never really quite gets it back.
  • Subverted in Father Ted. Housekeeper Mrs Doyle is shown to be even crazier and more of a Cloudcuckoolander than the priests She lives with,often leaving Ted to be the mature and stable one
  • Inverted in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined with Starbuck and Apollo: She's the reckless loose cannon who prefers to shoot first and ask questions later, while he's the thoughtful moral compass and voice of reason who often has to reel her back in.
  • Subverted in My Name Is Earl. Both Earl and Darnell are much more sensible than Joy and are on equal footing with Catalina.
  • Averted in Peep Show. While Mark and Jeremy are both neurotic and incredibly flawed, the show doesn't shy away from showing Sophie to be as bad on occasion, as well as other women like Elena or Toni.
  • Subverted in The United States of Tara. Max is a lot more sensible and sane than Tara. The fact that Tara has about five different personalities living in her undoubtedly helps.
  • Played with on Frasier. Daphne appears to be far more sensible than the Crane Brothers but only because much is made of their snobbery. Taken on her own, Daphne shows many signs of eccentricity such as her sunny retellings of childhood traumas or her self-described psychic abilities, making Martin and Roz the sanest of the cast. When she gets together with Niles, both are portrayed as intelligent reasonable people for whom any bizarre behaviour is often justified.
    • Subverted big time however with the boys' earlier wives. While Niles and Frasier can both be extremely neurotic and snobby, both are still shown as good-hearted compassionate individuals. Their wives, however are not. Frasier had Diane, a Cloudcuckoolander of epic proportions, and Lilith, whom Niles accurately described as the coldest thing in nature. Maris, meanwhile, was absolutely horrible to Niles and threw him out the second he stood up for himself, as well as just being a generally unpleasant woman.
  • Subverted in Little Howards Big Question, in which Mother is the main duo's mother figure and provides Infodumps on the subject of the week, thus initially seeming like the down-to-earth sitcom mother to the viewer. However, she is actually prone to moments of complete insanity, like kidnapping and torturing Big Howard's MacBook out of jealousy, and despite being the most book-smart person in the cast she has little common sense and almost no grip on reality.
  • Inverted with the Buckets in Keeping Up Appearances. Hyacinth is so totally obsessed with her social climbing that she is constantly out of touch with reality--insistently pronouncing "Bucket" as "Bouquet" is the least of her issues. Richard, on the other hand, is long-suffering, but manages to keep his sense of humour--and his sense--despite his insane wife.
  • The sitcom Whitney features her boyfriend Alex, who more or less is the straight man to the titular character's antics and commentary.
  • Of the "corner kids" in the fourth season of The Wire, one of the two girls of the group, Zenobia, is considerably more able to interact normally with people outside of the ghetto than the boys. This is demonstrated most poignantly when they go out to a sit-down restaurant and she is the only one not befuddled by the experience.
    • Also demonstrated with the McNulty-Beadie relationship, and heavily implied with each of Bunk, Pryzbylewski and Carcetti versus their wives. Greggs too, if she is the "man" of her lesbian relationship.
  • Averted in Seinfeld. Elaine thinks She is the moral center of the group and the sane one but She is every bit as uncaring and antisocial as the rest of the group. Out of all the cast, Kramer was the only one shown as portraying anything close to kindness.
  • How I Met Your Mother vacillates on this with the Lilly-Marshall relationship. Marshall is such a massive goofball that Lilly often can't help but look closer to earth, merely by default. But part of the reason Marshall loves Lilly so much is that she can be every bit as silly and crude as he is. At Marshall's wedding, he revealed that he once held a farting contest with Lilly.
    • One of the reasons they make an entertaining couple is that they're each Closer to Earth than the other in different areas (e.g., Lily is brash, impulsive and prone to moronic schemes, Marshall is neurotic, hysterical and has many eccentricities), so both of them get to play the Wacky Guy and the Straight Man at different times.
    • It is also averted with Ted and Robin. She is short tempered, irrational and slovenly while he is calm, clear-thinking and organized.
  • Averted and inverted on The Middle, where Mike is more stoic and grounded than Frankie.
  • Modern Family plays this straight with Claire and Phil (Who is such a goof that anyone looks more sensible) and averts it with Jay and Gloria and Jay and his ex-wife. There are also a lot of moments where Claire acts irrationally or impulsively.
  • Breaking Bad looked like it may play this trope straight in its early episodes given Skyler's overall lack of involvement in the story. However as it has gone on, it is being heavily averted with Skyler often just as bad if not worse than Walt (he entered the drug trade out of pure panic and good intentions, she is motivated purely by money and if she ever does suggest something moral like going to the police, it is purely as a last resort or an act of panic). It is also averted with Hank and Marie and Jesse and his girlfriend Jane (She threatened to expose Walt and introduced Jesse to heroin).
  • Averted in Married... with Children. Al is incredibly bitter and immoral but Peggy is even worse with her refusal to take care of her children, her mistreatment of Al and her constant mooching. Al comes across as a Jerkass Woobie while she is just a Jerkass.
  • Averted and given a twist on ((30 Rock)). Liz is often the only sane one among her staff, mostly Tracy but Jenna is often just as bad as him if not worse. When Liz goes off the handle, Pete and Jack are the sane ones. Though They have crazy moments too. Let's just say no one is spared a dose of craziness now and then.
  • Played for laughs in Community; Britta Perry often likes to think she's this trope, but she really, really, really isn't.
  • Bones, while it tries to be balanced, slants in this direction. While Bones herself isn't as much on the common sense scale, she is by far the most intelligent. The women are generally portrayed as wiser, while the men are usually the ones who do childish things like experiments for the purpose of Stuff Blowing Up and need the supervision of Team Mom Dr. Saroyan. Booth constantly gets anthropological terms wrong (which could be Obfuscating Stupidity, though) Angela and Sweets both declared "Men are idiots" in a episode. Bones and Angela went out of the way to remind us that all violence towards animals are male.


Newspaper Comics

  • In FoxTrot, Roger is a buffoon who is unaware of his own incompetence, while Andy is responsible and fairly intelligent, even if she is somewhat obsessed with bizarre tofu concoctions.
    • Actually this is more of a subversion as Andy thinks she closer to earth but upon closer inspection of her character is actually no better or worse than the rest of her family
    • Paige also tends to be a stereotypical ditzy, shallow teenager, obsessed with dating and going to the mall.
  • Calvin and Hobbes is a classic example, pitting a wildly creative young boy against several eminently sensible female foils. While the entire cast usually winds up playing the Straight Man to Calvin, the other male leads still tend to be funnier than their female counterparts. (For instance: Dad explains science.)
  • Garfield has a typical example in Jon and Liz, although, to be fair, Garfield is also more sensible than Jon. (Hell, Odie might be more sensible than Jon.)


Theater

  • Shakespeare's heroines, especially his comic ones, generally marry down. The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples and all that.
  • Patrice in13 is shown as wiser than Evan, who pursues popularity at the expense of losing the friends he already has
    • Patrice and Archie subvert this trope, because while Patrice is generally more level-headed than Archie, who tends to spend a lot of time thinking about Kendra, Archie is able to convince Patrice to do the right thing and help Evan out, even though he was a jerk to her.


Toys

  • In Bionicle, Gali is typically portrayed as more level-headed, wise and sensible than most of the male members of her team, often serving as the voice of reason. Although, Onua sometimes gives her a run for her money, possibly because his powers make him literally Closer to Earth.


Video Games

  Jane Shepard: It looks like your mother and The Man are arguing again. Those two are so clichéd; the girl's smart and hard-done-by and the guy's a selfish oaf. They always fight. Blah Blah Blah, I've seen that double act a million times before.

    • And yet in that very fanfic, John Shepard is the Renegade. Hmm.
    • Inverted in the very same game. When you return to the citadel you get an encounter where a woman and a man are arguing and she is taking a wild fear based position and he is taking the more conservative playing the odds solution.
      • The man is the correct one here (based on the numbers they give). So it's averted here.
    • Which is itself another gender stereotype; women are emotional, men are rational.
        • Mass Effect technically allows you to subvert this trope with respects to the protagonist since you are free to pick Shepard's gender, but the changes to dialogue and actions remain constant. Therefore, you have the ability to create a psycho, abusive, power-hungry woman if you play as renegade female Shepard.
    • This is averted many times in Knights of the Old Republic. For example in Knights of the Old Republic II, you have a choice between siding with the corrupt Czerka corporation, whose spokesperson is a woman, or siding with the well-intended Ithorians, whose spokesperson is a man. (Well, not a man, because he's an alien. But a male.)
  • Bioware has avoided this in Dragon Age: Origins by making potential romantic partners you try to please: good boy, bad girl, good girl, bad boy (in the order you meet them).
    • On the other hand, played absolutely straight with the Lady of the Forest a.k.a. Witherfang who is not only the Morality Chain for the entire werewolf race, but also the only one who doesn't advocate massacring either elves or werewolves. As opposed to the (male) werewolf field commander Swiftrunner and the (male) elven leader Zathrian, respectively. In fact, her solution to the Elf-Werewolf conflict is easily the most ethically correct one, with only two casualties: Zathrian and the Lady herself, both of whom die willingly in the end.
    • Dragon Age II tends to avert this, as the major sides of conflict have both their men and their women presented with serious moral flaws. The two major figureheads Orsino (male) and Meredith (female) are so deeply flawed, the whole thing might as well be considered Evil Versus Evil. However, for most of the game, Orsino does come off as more reasonable and level-headed than Meredith, if equally flawed. Your own party members avert this as well, as both males and females can be equally grounded or sane.
      • The Legacy DLC subverts this, as Janeka, a female Grey Warden, while rude, is coherent, answers all questions asked of her succinctly as has clear plans for her actions, as opposed to the male Larius, whose half-corrupted by a taint and can barely speak a straight sentence. As it turns out, Janeka is being influenced by Corephyus, while Larius is able to resist the influence better. The outcome of the module, however, is strongly implied to be the same Downer Ending-slash-Sequel Hook, regardless of whom you supported.
  • Played very straight in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, in which Princess Zelda is bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom, and five of the game's seven Sages are female. Also, all the Exposition Fairies in the series seem to be female (except Ezlo).
    • Although Link himself and almost all of the important male characters are just as focused and talented. Also, despite being a princess, the owner of the Zora Sapphire, and the Sage of Water, Ruto is a Tsundere and Abhorrent Admirer to Link.
    • Inverted in Majora's Mask, though. There are two fairies, Tael and Tatl, brother and sister, respectively. Tatl is the one who accompanies Link, but she's whiny, flighty, and can be downright unhelpful and sarcastic. Tael, while he never joins the party, is practical and gives good advice about summoning the four guardians. He also volunteers to go with Link to the moon until Tatl goes instead.
    • It's worth noting however that Zelda is the one that made the rash decision to send Link after the Master Sword, inadvertently allowing Ganondorf to get his hands on the Triforce,
  • In the Monkey Island series, Elaine is the sensible sidekick of the childish Guybrush, and the Vodoo Lady always has a counter against Le Chuck, the big bad. A "baloney" or goofy female character is very rare while the the opposite rings true for the male ones.


Webcomics

  • Averted in Circumstance of the Revenant Braves, where Fio is generally less stable/rational than Kei. Morally, they're two different flavors at the same end of the spectrum, with Fio being more impetuous about doing good deeds while Kei is more concerned about being practical in his ethical behavior.
  • Sluggy Freelance sort of fits this trope. Generally, Zoe and Gwynn are shown being nowhere near as stupid or crazy as Riff and Torg. However, Gwynn did, before getting possessed, tend to be about as reckless with her magic as Riff is with super-science, and both her and Zoe have had their Not So Above It All moments. It's more like Sluggy will have women's default state be Closer to Earth, but will have them descend into lunacy as well if it makes for a good joke.
    • Eventually it turns into Zoe being the Only Sane Man among the cast, with Gwynn becoming almost as much a childish freeloader as Torg and Riff, except, in her case, she's also vain, vindictive, and, at times, manipulative, particularly in relationships, to the point that Hilarity Ensues (she gets better...).
    • In the Sluggy Collection side-story, Riff and Torg get sucked into another dimension where they undergo a Gender Bender. Girl!Torg says she feels more on top of things now. So this trope is officially in force.
  • Alice fulfills this role in Loserz. Not only Closer to Earth than the boys, but also more so than the other girls.
  • An interesting example from Something Positive are Aubrey and Jason. From the comic's beginning these two friends were both described as being mischievious pranksters, though Jason was the calmer and more rational one, while Aubrey was driven by whim and often abandoned hers halfway through. Both have undergone character development since then, but Aubrey's has been greater, arguably making her slightly more level-headed. (They're also married now, incidentally.)
    • They're just about even now, really. While both are mischievous, Jason's pranks were always much more thought out, with backup plans in place should anything go wrong. When he wrote Nailed, he knew full well it was crap, but the whole thing was a giant Batman Gambit so he'd get laid. Aubrey was always running with the first idea that came to mind, which led to her being banned from public access television. She has had greater character arcs, but quantity alone don't give her a leg up.
  • VG Cats arguably subverts this, at least with respect to morality. Although Aeris is obviously MUCH smarter than Leo, she is not morally superior. While Leo is not that morally upstanding himself, the tiebreaker is that Aeris is often cruel to him, and sometimes takes advantage of his stupidity. A trace of Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male might be present, though.
  • In Sinfest, Monique dismisses a young man as seeking a Mommy figure.


Web Original


Western Animation

  • Marge and Homer Simpson of The Simpsons. If it weren't for Marge, Homer probably would have died a long time ago.
    • One could consider Marge almost a parody of this trope at times, given she is so tied down to earth she is exageratively boring and unimpulsive in personality.
    • The relationship between Kirk and Luane Van Houten during their divorce is an especially bad case. It's shown as all of Kirk's fault, and he ends up losing his job and in low-income housing in a couple days while she has no problem finding men to date and making a living for both her and Milhouse in a middle-class home despite previous episodes indicating she was a house wife and her stating she had to borrow money from her sister even before the divorce.
    • The stress of raising eight children has worn Manjula's affection for her husband down to nothing, leading Apu to cheat on her with a fetching Squishee delivery girl. After the affair, Manjula forces her husband to perform a list of increasingly-impossible tasks to win her back (near the end of the list is "get a cartoon published in the New Yorker"). The reward is the same barren marriage that drove Apu to cheat in the first place- while Apu is punished for his philandering several times over, his wife never acknowledges for a second that her husband's emotional needs aren't being met, nor does Apu or anyone else call her on this. Later episodes in the series show this condition doesn't change: "She's this close to letting me touch her again!" Can you honestly imagine Manjula getting the same treatment if SHE cheated? See The Unfair Sex.
      • Also remember, it was an arranged marriage and they first met as adults immediately beforehand. It seems odd to expect fidelity when they were never all that close anyway.
      • Hell, almost immediately after they were married, Manjula even said "We can always get divorced!"
    • Bart and Lisa Simpson do this too, albeit to a much lesser extent than their parents -- Lisa is certainly much more intelligent than Bart, but Bart is the more socially adept of the two, and isn't nearly as dumb as his father.
    • The trope gets taken to its logical extreme in the episode "Lisa The Simpson," where Lisa discovers that the Simpson males are genetically determined to lose their intelligence as they age, eventually becoming idiotic man-children with menial jobs. Of course, this doesn't affect the female Simpsons, who are all incredibly smart and successful.
      • One could argue the situation as being more complex in earlier seasons. Homer despite his stupidity was fine being a regular working man and providing for his family. Lisa on the other hand often acted as an ambitious Soapbox Sadie. She once callously labeled Marge's normal life as a housewife as meaningless and constantly expresses shame at being of the same gene pool as her uninspirational family. Lisa is more intelligent than Homer by miles, but Closer to Earth is debatable. Of course Flanderization kicked in and made Homer a Jerkass Cloudcuckoolander, though even then Lisa and Marge took similar evolution, they are now only as Closer to Earth as "slightly less manic" allows. In Lisa's case it's more to do with Characterization Marches On since she and Bart were originally created as an interchangeable pair of bratty kids meant to drive Homer and Marge crazy but Bart's popularity skyrocketed so they re-tooled Lisa to be the Child Prodigy Soapbox Sadie she's known for.
  • Lois and Peter Griffin in Family Guy.
    • This is somewhat subverted in that Lois is far from perfect herself, often giving into temptations such as theft and lust. While she always outshines Peter, she is often outshone by their intellectual and compassionate dog, Brian. Of course, even Brian has a number of character flaws like alcoholism and angry outbursts.
      • For the first season at least though, its played completely straight (with such pedestrian examples as having Peter bring home a fish he caught making a mess all over the house Lois had just cleaned and believing he kept his end of the marital bargain by providing raw food that Lois would have to spend hours preparing). Peter is always the jerk or the idiot and if Lois ever loses her patience, its only having been driven to the point where even Mother Theresa would lose it. She and Meg only develop real comic character flaws in later seasons (though given it's evolution into more sadistic humor they take said flaws to extremes).
  • Totally inverted in King of the Hill. Hank is down-to-earth and grounded (even to the point of being a wet blanket). Peggy is crazy and out there. She perceives the situation... differently.
  • The Flintstones: Fred and Wilma and to a lesser degree Barney and Betty.
    • Similarly, George and Jane of The Jetsons. ("JANE, STOP THIS CRAZY THING!")
  • Cosmo and Wanda in The Fairly Odd Parents.
    • To a lesser extent, Timmy's parents. Sure, they're both nuts, but his dad's considerably more nuts.
  • Drawn Together is an odd case, both Toot and Clara are often portrayed as just as bad, if not worse than the males in the house. Foxxy Love, however (although she's certainly no saint) has been described as the only one "not totally retarded" and is generally the most caring, responsible, and motivated person on the show. She's also black, so it's probably another form of Positive Discrimination.
  • Played straight and subverted with Maddie from Danny Phantom. While she definitely plays a better parental figure then Jack, she will be just as obsessed and out-of-focus as her husband if a ghost catches her attention. With a series about ghosts, this happens quite frequently.
    • Even in that case, she's much more competent and rational in her ghost hunting, and tends to avoid seeing ghosts where there are none and overreacting, like Jack does.
    • Although it seems that Jack is something of a Ditzy Genius who actually may be smarter than Maddie in some respects. Most of their equipment, although maintained by Maddie, is usually invented by Jack.
  • Though Jimmy is smarter than both of them, Hugh Neutron is definitely the stupid one in the family.
  • Played with in American Dad. While Stan is no doubt much more out of touch and outright insane than his wife, considering some of the things Francine's tried to do, she's Closer to Earth the same way Mars is "Closer To Earth" than Neptune.
    • Francine, we must remember, is a woman who abandoned her children for a year just so she could get revenge on George Clooney for upstaging her in a bit part she had on a sitcom twenty years earlier. Of course, Stan went along with it, but only to make her happy. Closer to Earth, indeed.
      • Well, remember that it was Stan who planned the whole thing for Francine, to point of surprising her by blindfolding her and revealing it only when they are already on the plane; it wasn't like he was just along for the ride.
    • This is probably best described as a Zig-Zagging Trope. Which one of them is closer to Earth is largely dependent on the situation. If it's something involving politics or one of the kids behaving oddly, Stan flies off the handle and Francine is the reasonable one. If it has to do with their marriage or social status, Francine flies off the handle and Stan is the reasonable one. Each one needs the other the keep them sane at different times... kind of like a real marriage!
  • Baloo and Rebecca play a similar (albeit more platonic) example in Tale Spin. While Rebecca is slightly less impulsive and obnoxious than Baloo, she shares his stubborness and ego (and is also a borderline Control Freak). Word of God suggests they were intended to foil each other in different aspects. Baloo was Book Dumb and slovenly, but also streetwise and resourceful due to his adventuring. Rebecca was a logical business woman and well educated, but also somewhat naive and inept to the outside world. Generally if depending on the scenario, either could play the Idiot Ball, with the other playing the Closer to Earth Straight Man.
  • The Tick has American Maid, a completely competent confident superheroine in a cast that includes mostly insane and retarded heroes alongside posturing ineffectual heroes and meek neurotic sidekicks. They also have an exchange with a female superhero team in Belgium, this team is shown to be more powerful and more competent than Arthur and the Tick.
  • Played both ways on Phineas and Ferb: Linda is generally more grounded than Lawrence, and Doofenshmirtz's craziness is contrasted by both his ex-wife and daughter's sanity. However, Candace is absolutely neurotic, making her far less down-to-earth than either of her brothers or her love interest Jeremy. These cases are murky, though; Candace (and Lawrence to a lesser extent) seem kookier, but then, they're the ones who know what's really going on, so...
    • In fact, the few times that Linda catches a glimpse of just how strange her life really is, she becomes almost as neurotic as Candace.
  • Noodle from Gorillaz has been the most mentally stable and well-adjusted member of the group so far. Strangely, she remained so even after she regained her memory inbetween Phases 1 and 2, learning that she was trained as a Super Soldier for the Japanese government and the only alive kid left from the project.
  • Inverted in Tiny Toon Adventures, where Buster was far less flighty and impulsive than Babs.
  • Played with in The Dreamstone, Amberley seems slightly more competant and well adjusted than Rufus, but also somewhat more boisterous and moody. Similarly played with Wildit, who is one of the most experienced and skilled Wuts alongside being one of the dizziest.
  • Miss Grotke from Recess
  • Given a twist in Futurama. While Leela is certainly the most sensible of the crew, Fry is undoubtedly the kindest most moral character on the show. Further more, She is often shown as stubborn and short tempered to contrast Fry's mellowness.
  • The Looney Tunes Show plays it straight with Daffy and Tina, but completely inverts it with Bugs and Lola.
  • Kanga of Disney's Winnie the Pooh adaptations. While even the sanest males such as Rabbit and Eeyore have frequent moments of naivete and brainlessness, Kanga usually holds the Sanity Ball and acts as a Team Mom to the other animals outside of unindividual acts of bumbling by the entire cast (a possible reason she is Out of Focus due to most stories focusing on misunderstandings and blundering). The original novels' Kanga was also slightly saner, but a bit more idiot prone.
  • The parents in Rugrats show evidence of this. With Stu and Didi, Didi is the rational one and the disciplinarian and with Betty and Howard, Betty is the stronger one and more decisive. This also seems to be the way with Randy and Lucy. However subverted with Chaz and Kira who are both competent parents, even though Chaz does slip into Bumbling Dad territory. Completely averted with Drew and Charlotte who are both awful parents as Angelica demonstrates.
    • Played with for Stu and Didi, Stu is more eccentric and childish, but far more laid back than neurotic and overcautious Didi. Howard is similarly a Nervous Wreck, but less abrasive than Betty.
  • South Park plays this straight with the Marsh family (Sharon is often exasperated by the idiotic things Randy does), inverts it with the Broflovski family (Gerald is relatively sane, while Sheila is a nutjob) and averts it with the McCormick family (Stuart and Carol spend too much of their time fighting for one to be any smarter than the other).
    • Even the Broflovski's zigzag with it since Gerald is also an occasionally immoral lawyer. Similarly Sharon is only sane compared to Randy, and pretty much all adults, male or female, revert to moronic panic whenever something plagues the town (be it warranted or not). Stan and Wendy also flip flop with this, both are prone to acts of childishness and self righteousness inbetween acting as the Only Sane Man.
  • Daria fans have noted that the female characters are almost always more dominant (and developed) than the males. Played With, however, because being well-developed also often means they have more noticeable flaws. (Jake, for example, is a ditzy Bumbling Dad, but Helen is a Workaholic who sometimes seems less sympathetic.) Daria's relationship with Tom can also be seen as an Inversion, though some fans think it went too far and made him seem like a Relationship Stu.
  • Inverted in Chowder with Truffles, who is short-tempered, obnoxious to everyone and, especially, loud, while her husband, Mung Daal, is calmer and more level-headed.
  • Averted in Bob's Burgers with Bob and Linda. Both of them get carried away from time to time, but the frequency and degree differs. Bob plays the Straight Man more often than not, but when it's his turn to be irrational, he does it big. In contrast, Linda's flights of fancy are more frequent, but they tend to be pretty benign more often than not. Fortunately, when push comes to shove, they've got each other's backs.


Real Life

  • A real life example is G. K. Chesterton and his wife Frances. She managed all the practical details in their lives, while for all of Gilbert's intelligence and wit, often forgot where his appointments were and did most of his writing in depots because he missed his train. In one notable incident he sent her the following telegram: "Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?" She replied: "Home."
    • Shortly after the wedding, he directed the bank to not honor his signature, only hers. She gave him an allowance and would consider requests for more for special expenses.
  • In Orthodox Judaism, women are considered holier than men and are not required to pray. They pray anyway, but they aren't required to like their male counterparts. The reason that men and women are separated during davening? The men would get distracted by the women.
  • An interesting inversion was the marriage of Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. He's best known for doing family movies and musicals, while she played the main character in Sex and the City.
  • Science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein praised his wife Virginia as his sharp-nosed, polyglot business manager, and declared her smarter than himself more than once.
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