[List] - 8 Of The Biggest Butt-Monkeys From TV


Ah, the butt-monkey. That one character that seems to be the living embodiment of Murphy's Law. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong, for them. The source of all information of such things, TVTropes, describes the butt-monkey as such:
Simply having a character go through hell once or twice (no matter how severely) is not enough to be the Butt Monkey. With primary and secondary characters, it must be a regular occurrence. With tertiary characters, it must be their sole purpose to exist. They don't do anything to earn the hell they go through, other than being an easy target. Sometimes it's all the writers can think of to do with the character.
The trick to being a successful butt-monkey is that the viewer must never sympathise with the character. Suffering is what they do, and as the viewer, we delight in it. Even if the actions of other characters drives the butt-monkey to desperation, it will still be played for laughs.

True story: I knew a butt-monkey when I was in school. We called him Dan, mostly because his name was Dan and we never gave him a nickname. The universe hated his guy. I've compared him to that Far Side cartoon of God holding his finger over the 'smite' button, with a random guy in his sights. Dan was that guy. Once, instead of cereal, he got a Wolf Spider in his breakfast. His mother threw a shoe at his face while he was sleeping, excusing it as "having forgot he was there." He wanted nothing more then a little kind human contact, and was universally reviled by perfect strangers. I asked a random person on the street what their first impression was of Dan, and their response was to shiver and gag slightly. Keep in mind, there was nothing physically wrong with him. He was just Dan.

Hit the jump for eight of the best (or is it worst? I'm confused) butt-monkeys, as seen on TV.

8) Hans Moleman, The Simpsons



In the early days, the Simpsons was a satirical and cultural goldmine, making obscure references to the Utne Reader and Carlos Castaneda. For all the burping, it was a smart show. This was before the it became a rotating door of inorganic celebrity cameos and the writers thought that comedy amounted to Homer screaming incessantly for twenty minutes. But, even in the days of higher brain function, the show needed a victim. Milhouse was too young, and pitiful. They needed someone the audience would have no emotional attachment to. A miserable little homunculus, to die and die again.

Summed up with: "Give it a try. It's like kissing a peanut."

7) Clarkson/Hammond/May, Top Gear



Top Gear could be best described as three mates sitting around, having a chat about cars. And all three of these mates have vast reservoirs of knowledge when it comes to car stats, history, and performance. And next to no knowledge of anything else. They are the automotive equivalent of the Three Stooges, and no one of them gets it from the other two any worse then the others. Hammond is short and lives in the country, and must be mocked for it. James is slow, and very much like an old man. Clarkson is tall, and tends to fix every problem with a hammer. Indeed, what separates the current Top Gear from the original show isn't the focus on sports cars. It's the juvenile stupidity these three get themselves, and each other, into. And it's fantastic.

Summed up with: "If you have a weakness on this show, you die."

6) TV's Frank, Mystery Science Theatre 3000



Every mad scientist needs a loyal henchmen, and Dr. Forrester was no different. He was busy driving Joel and Mike insane with terrible films, someone had to take care of the lab. That someone was TV's Frank, who was grossly incompetent, or at least highly under qualified for working with a mad scientist. He was essentially Beaker in human form, routinely being killed and resurrected, to be experimented on by Forrester. He left at the end of season six, to ascend to Second-Banana Heaven.

Summed up with: "Now, you realise if you tell Frank I've done this, I'll have to kill him."

5) Alan Davies, QI



Alan's role, on the smartest quiz show in the world, is to be the everyman. Considering that it's hosted by Stephen Fry, and has regular appearances by former barristers, psychiatric nurses, physicists, current physicists, musical prodigies and world class athletes, it makes him look pretty dumb. It's expected he'll shout out the obvious (ultimately incorrect) answer, and be pointed and laughed at by the rest of the class. And it wasn't until the third year of the show that Davies realised this himself.

Summed up with: Fry's once per episode introductions, such as "...and the Gerry-built Alan Davies."

4) Beaker, The Muppet Show, et al.



Lab assistant is not Beaker's job description. Guinea pig is more appropriate. Every horrible thing Dr. Bunsen Honeydew can concocted, Beaker is the one to have it rubbed on, attached to, aimed at, or strapped in to himself, only to mangle him in some terrible way. Fun fact: Beaker became increasingly aware of his fate as time progressed. In his first appearances, he's calm and confident. By the end of the series, he was a wreck of paranoid nerves.

Summed up with: "Which my assistant Beaker will now demonstrate..."

3) Jerry Gergich, Parks and Recreation



Jerry's home life, unlike most on this list, actually seems pretty good. His family loves him, he's artistically talented, and only has a couple years left until he can retire (of course, that was four years ago, so way to screw that one up, Jerry). But as soon as he's surrounded by the staff of the Parks and Rec office, he becomes a walking calamity. Aside from all the things blamed on him by the staff which he didn't do, there is no question that life is unkind to Jerry, exemplified in the season two episode Park Safety. Even Chris kind of hates him. Jerry though, takes it in stride, enjoying life's little accidents, always knowing that out there, somewhere, there's a better place: Muncie.

Summed up with: "Jerry is both the schlemiel and the schlimazel of our office."

2) Zoidberg, Futurama



At one time, possibly the greatest example of a Butt-Monkey on television. Watch those first couple years, and Zoidberg's job at Planet Express appears to be the thing everyone else could look to and feel good about themselves. If anyone else ever realised he was there. His pathetic nature might be his greatest strength though, as Santa himself declared Zoidberg the only one of the crew worthy of a present, and not death. Since the show returned, they've fleshed Zoidberg out some more, and as is the shows tendency, he has a sad, heroic past that makes you feel that his sacrifices are worth something. Which isn't as funny as watching his under-sea home burn down.

Summed up with: "Save my friends! And Zoidberg!"

1) Ted Buckland, Scrubs



Ted was the divorced, living with his mother, flop-sweat prone, questionably competent, sexually frustrated, inept yes-man to hospital chief Bob Kelso. Described in universe as a 'sad-sack,' he spent his spare time with his TV theme song singing acapela group. When Scrubs ended, he had finally found happiness with The Gooch, though it being Ted, his happiness was short lived, as his appearances in Cougar Town revert him to his old, lonely ways. Because happiness isn't funny. He's gained a new talent though, being able to make any song sad.

Summed up with: "Ketchup is for winners, Ted."
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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