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Homer: Man, the last nine months sure were crazy.

Bart: I'll say. I learned the true meaning of Columbus Day.

Marge: I enjoyed a brief but memorable stint as Sideshow Marge.

Lisa: I became the most popular girl in school, but blew it by being conceited.
The Simpsons, "Eight Misbehavin'", explaining this trope.

A common trope among High School stories; a character gets his 15 minutes of fame or goes from Rags to Riches and lets it go to his head. The character will sometimes ignore old friends in favor of a new, "cooler" crowd, and almost always turns into a Jerkass egotist overnight.

Usually the Reset Button is pushed by the end of the episode, followed by An Aesop that Celebrity Is Overrated. Usually happens to ambitious characters, much to their chagrin.

See also In with the In Crowd, Lonely At the Top, Drunk with Power. Disability as an Excuse For Jerkassery and Bridezilla are Sub Tropes.

Named for a real personality disorder shown to affect people who become famous, making this a case of Truth in Television. Examples of that can be found in any of the more down-market newspapers.

Examples of Acquired Situational Narcissism include:

Anime and Manga

  • Speedy in the Samurai Pizza Cats episode "A Little Bit O' Luck". When he got rich, he ditched his job at the Pizza Parlour, harshly insulted Polly and Guido and generally acted like a jerk. At the end of the episode, Speedy reconciled with his friends who stuck him with some pretty mean chores to make it up to them.
  • Abyo from Pucca is always a bit arrogant and self-absorbed, but in the episode "Fab Abyo", it's cranked to 11 when he's selected as the Chosen One for the House of Sha-Lo and essentially turned into a Korean pop star.
  • In Kill La Kill, this happens to Mako and her family when they temporarily gained a higher status.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka has the family of Onizuka's student Nanako Mizuki, who hit it big economically speaking but became colder and bitchier. Nanako is greatly bothered by this, and Onizuka offers to help her in his... well, his Onizuka ways.
  • Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics has Josephine, Bluebeard's last wife. Already a very naive girl with dreams of marrying a prince, when she actually married a nobleman she became snobby and bitchy to her humble lumberjack brothers. She apologizes to them when they come to rescue her from her murderous husband even after how she treated them.

Comic Books


  • In the movie The Princess Diaries the main character gets a makeover and instantly heads straight for the local Jerk Jock, ignoring the nice guy entirely. Then again she did crush on him since the beginning anyway, she just finally got the opportunity to act on it.
  • Never Been Kissed - Josie, once she is with the popular kids.
  • This trope is the entire premise of Mean Girls—based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes which is a study of, and survival manual for, real highschool girl society.
  • Mercifully averted by Charlie Bartlett in that he's never mean to anyone even after he's a celebrity of the entire school and sticks with the same girl he met in the very beginning. Are we sure this is a proper high school comedy?
  • A major sub-theme of the movie The Hudsucker Proxy.
  • This is the mercilessly executed final point of My Own Private Idaho. Keanu Reeves' character spends the entire movie as a penniless prostitute, waiting for his father's inheritance to clear. The moment it does, he turns his back on his entire former life. He refuses to even acknowledge the men he previously regarded as his best friends and rejects his "real" father-figure. The father-figure dies immediately after this rejection, presumably of heartbreak. And after spending the entire movie deriding his biological father's phony politician friends, Reeves' character has no qualms about joining their ranks.
  • The Mighty Ducks 2 - When the Ducks become famous as in an international tournament as "Team USA," Coach Bombay abandons his coaching responsibilities in favour of milking his newfound wealth and fame for all it is worth.
  • Spider-Man 3 - Peter Parker lets Spidey's popularity go to his head, which drives a wedge between him and Mary Jane.
  • Used in the movie Little Big League, where the kid manager starts ignoring his friends to have lunch with hall of fame baseball players. His way of making it up? Autographed baseballs.
  • In the movie 21 the main hero is a poor MIT student, that becomes associated with a bunch of card players, trying to rip off Vegas casinos. The shining Vegas life goes to his head, and he neglects his old faithful friends. In the end, of course, he comes around, and admits being a 'jerk'.
  • The description of this trope might as well be the description of the classic 80s movie Can't Buy Me Love: the main character likes the most popular girl in school. She screws up her mom's expensive dress, so he gives her the money he has been saving for a telescope in exchange for her hanging out with him for some time. He becomes popular and friends with the "jocks" that used to punch him and his former friends, and in the process, he becomes a jerk. I won't spoil it further for you, but the movie itself might as well be the trope codifier of the "popular vs not popular" wars.
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint is convinced by the mayor to keep the FLDSMDFR going, even when the food starts getting dangerously large, in order to continue getting the praise and attention of the world. While he doesn't become a huge jerk, he does put Sam down when she tries to warn him about the coming food storm.
    • He was still upset that his dad, who noticed his stake was too big, still isn't proud of him.
  • In My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Jenny acquires this along with her superpowers and becomes G-Girl, leaving poor Barry alone and embittered to become Prof. Bedlam.
  • Somewhat averted in Heathers, where Veronica has, pre-movie, ditched her old friend Betty Finn to get in with the Heathers and participates in their mean girl hijinks, but a) is extremely self-aware and self-loathing about it all and b) still speaks to Betty in the caf and once invites her over for a game of croquet—the film deals with the social aftermath of such a shift rather than making the moralization of it the Aesoppy point.
  • Somewhat averted in Sky High. Once Will realizes he's hurt his friend Layla's feelings by allowing his time to be manipulated by Gwen, he immediately rushes after her, instead of shrugging it off like most characters do. And he never really acts smug or superior when his powers get him attention.
  • Limitless: To have Super Intelligence by taking a pill of NZT goes right to any consumer’s head: Everyone becomes Drunk with Power, alienates his friends to be In with the In Crowd (only to discover that is Lonely At the Top), and becomes a Sharp-Dressed Man.
  • The dinner scene from Shrek 2. Donkey demands that he be treated like a king, stating he's the "noble steed" who helped save Fiona from the dragon.

 "Hey waiter, how 'bout a bowl for the steed?"



  • Subverted in the Harry Potter series. Various characters, in particular The Daily Prophet accuse Harry of exhibiting this though in actuality he doesn't at all, he just wants to be normal. Ron actually thinks Harry's developing ASN in Goblet of Fire though he ultimately relents.
    • Gilderoy Lockhart seems to have it.
    • Voldemort on the other hand seems to have been a narcissist ever since he was a kid.
    • Happens to Ron briefly when it said he survived and attack from Sirius. Who got in the dormitory to attack Scabbers (Wormtail). And again when he and Hermione were held hostage by the mermaids. In his case it's somewhat more understandable: he spent his entire childhood feeling like an afterthought compared to his brothers, and his adolescence being an afterthought to Harry, so any time he actually becomes interesting, he jumps on it and milks it for all it's worth.
  • Temporarily happens to Big Erik in Epic. He gets past it on the loss of his player character, though.
  • In the The Railway Series, Thomas becomes noticeably more smug after being given his own branch-line. He gradually mellows out and becomes a wiser engine.
  • Happens with Karen Brewer in the Babysitter's Little Sister series when she wins a series of spelling bees. At first everyone praises her, but then she lets all the success go to her head and starts acting like a diva, pissing them off. True to form, she's knocked down from her pedestal at the end when she loses the state spelling bee.

Live Action TV

  • Happy Days: In "Richie's Flip Side", Richie falls into a job as a DJ and his ego grows with every scene. He contemplates quitting school and grows a ducktail. His friends hate him so much that Fonzie orchestrates a total snub by everyone at Arnold's during a live remote. Richie's crushed, learns his lesson, and quits his job. The moral of the story? No matter what you do, you will never be as cool as the Fonz.
    • In "A Shot In The Dark" Richie made a last-second lucky shot winning a basketball game. He was hailed as a hero and it went to his head. Later, in the championship game he by misses a free throw and comes back down to earth.[1]
  • Happened to Sally on 3rd Rock from the Sun, much to Dick's jealousy. When Sally's fame ends, she starts acting like a White Dwarf Starlet, quoting lines from Sunset Boulevard.
    • There's a slew of episodes of this kind where some of the characters (usually Sally, rarely Dick) will end up in a genre-shifted B story. In one of the tamer incidents of these stories (also an A story featuring Dick), Dick and Sally get into a magic act. The both do pretty well at a local place, but start getting inflated heads when the manager strokes their egos. Of course, Dick having an inflated ego is neither acquired or situational. He's always that way. Likely side effect of being the son of THE Big Giant Head, Ruler of the Universe.
  • In one episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, Johnny gets a second job hosting a TV show, and creates an utterly obnoxious alter-ego which rapidly takes over his entire life.
  • Latka turning into "Vic Ferrari" on Taxi
  • Arguably this has become the defining character trait of Ryan the Temp after his promotion in The Office. Only for him to be torn down when his plan to modernize Dunder-Mifflin proves less than successful, prompting him to engage in fraud to hide his failure, leading to his indictment and termination.
  • When Larry Sanders' sidekick, Hank Kingsley, is allowed to guest host The Larry Sanders Show, his ever-large ego takes over.
  • Supposed to be what we think is happening to SG-1's Daniel Jackson in the episode Absolute Power. Turns out, he's just crazy because of the knowledge of the Goa'uld. Of course, it turns out it was just Shifu giving him a dream sequence to teach him a lesson.
  • Happened in The Big Bang Theory, when Raj was listed in the 'People' Magazine's list of 30 People Under 30 to Watch. He becomes smug and obnoxious towards his friends and they stop speaking to him until the end of the episode.
  • The Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue episode "In the Limelight" had Dana Mitchell taking up an offer from fashion guru Koko Kashmere to become the Glitz Girl in order to pay her way into medical school, thus making her neglect both her Power Ranger duties and her friends, especially Kelsey Winslow. Eventually, while getting ready to attend a fashion show, Dana was easily snapped out of her fame-induced Jerkass-ness when Koko sarcastically asked if she would really throw away a good fashion career just to be a Ranger.
  • Fresh Prince of Bel Air - Ashley Banks' two-episode brush with pop stardom turned her into a even more narcissistic diva.
  • In Summer Heights High, when Mr. G is promoted to Head of the Drama department. Though he was a narcissist to begin with, he takes it Up to Eleven within hours.
  • In Arrested Development, when Gob becomes head of the Bluth Company he takes to lording it over the employees and bragging about his $6000 suit. Of course he always was a Jerkass.
  • Phil Olivetti in We Can Be Heroes thinks himself something of a bigshot after saving some kids from a jumping castle
  • In Home Improvement, this happens to Brad after he serves as Tim's guest co-host on Tool Time.
  • On Boy Meets World, Eric gets this when becomes an acclaimed stage actor, though it's only used for one gag and is not the focus of the episode.

 Amy: Promise me you won't let these things go to your head.

Eric: I would never!

Amy: Ooh look Bloomingdales is having a white sale.


  • The holographic Doctor in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Virtuoso". Of course, he had already learned a similar lesson umpteen times (Status Quo Is God).
  • Subverted in Angel. Off-screen, Lorne goes to Vegas and makes it big as a singer. For a few episodes, no one can get in contact with him, and when they finally do talk on the phone, he's distant, doesn't seem to care about his friends, and hangs up abruptly. They pay him a visit in Vegas and he snubs them directly, brushing them off as clingy fans to his bodyguards. Everyone assumes this trope has happened to him, until they manage to find out he's being blackmailed and imprisoned by the Casino to use his psychic powers for evil. If he resists or anyone tries to help him, they wind up getting their brains blown out. He was trying to protect his friends lives (and Angel's destiny) by snubbing them.
  • In Victorious, Robbie, after influenced by his puppet Rex creates a new video series on The Slap called Robarazzi, and develops this when he embarrasses his friends to gain popularity. After his friends get revenge, they help him find a new success in a cooking blog.
  • Happens to each of the six Brady kids throughout the course of the series, and they pay for it in a big way:
    • Greg gets a visit from Don Drysdale, who compliments his pitching skills and tells him he might have a future as a major leaguer. He decides he doesn't need to finish school or even listen to the coach, which gets him kicked out of a game near the end of the episode.
    • Marcia gets the role of Juliet in the school play and becomes a prima donna, insulting and bossing everyone around her. She's kicked out of the play and ends up accepting a smaller role when that actress develops the mumps.
    • Peter saves a little girl from a falling toy shelf at a store, which gains him his picture in the paper and a series of rewards. He tells the story again and again, making it sound more dramatic each time and alienating his friends.
    • Jan wins the Most Popular Girl election at school, but fails to keep the promises she made her friends so she can work on her speech and pick what to wear to the dance. Everyone gets pissed at her, leading her to write a new speech and apologize to everyone.
    • Bobby becomes a school safety monitor, which he hates at first, but then his parents convince him of what an important job it is. He takes this encouragement too far, writing up his own siblings for minor offenses, and gets a lesson in humility when he's forced to break a rule to save a cat.
    • Cindy gets onto televised quiz show after passing a hard test for it and starts acting like a huge diva, only caring about what she's going to wear on TV and insulting her siblings. She freezes when the camera goes on, doesn't answer a single question, and goes home humiliated.


  • The plot of "Deception" by Blackalicious. A guy from the streets becomes a rich and famous rap star and ditches his former crew, then gets replaced by the next big popular star that comes along and plummets back down into poverty, while all the people he abandoned during his rise to stardom point and laugh at him as he falls. The Aesop is delivered during the chorus: "Don't let money change ya."

New Media

  • Parodied in a Loading Ready Run sketch where Grahams internet fame transform him overnight into a massive tool. A swift kick in the groin is all that's needed to fix him.

Professional Wrestling

  • This happens surprisingly often in pro wrestling, where it very painfully sticks out because of wrestling's traditional Black and White Morality.
  • Shawn Michaels was the most frequent victim of this trope, as he seemed to schizophrenically switch back and forth between his heroic Everyman and arrogant "Sexy Boy" personas. A pretty blatant example was in the run-up to his match with Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam in 2005, which was booked as the main event because neither Michaels nor Hogan had ever been defeated at SummerSlam in singles action. Michaels "superkicked" Hogan in the face to prove that he could defeat the older wrestler, and relentlessly mocked the Hulkster as the date of their showdown drew nearer. At SummerSlam, Hogan defeated Michaels with his famous Atomic Leg Drop, prompting Shawn to immediately repent of his Jerkass behavior, shake Hogan's hand, and tell him: "I needed to know, and I found out."
  • Michaels did it again in January 2010, when he and Triple H were in the D-Generation X faction for the final time in their careers. DX were in the ring, boasting about how they were going to be the last two men left in the upcoming Royal Rumble Match - and Michaels swore that he would win the match and go on to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI for the World Heavyweight Championship. Rey Mysterio came down to the ring to rebut this, pointing out that he was challenging 'Taker for the title at the Royal Rumble and acting insulted that Michaels assumed that 'Taker would still be champion afterward. Michaels responded by telling Mysterio that he had no business being in the ring because Hornswoggle wasn't there! This insult was not only cruel but very stupid, since the one time Rey Mysterio and Shawn Michaels had wrestled one-on-one (at a tribute show for Eddie Guerrero), Mysterio had won!
  • A really gratuitous female example just before WrestleMania XX. SmackDown! Divas Rena Mero (better known as "Sable") and Torrie Wilson were appearing as cover girls for Playboy for the second time in each of their careers; Raw Divas Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie became jealous of the attention that Sable and Torrie were getting, and claimed that they were the sexier Divas. (It was all very strange because not only was this out-of-character behavior for Stacy and Jackie, but in Stacy's case it was downright hypocritical because Playboy had asked her to pose for them several times and she'd repeatedly turned them down!) The matter was finally settled with a Playboy Evening Gown Match at WrestleMania - in which, instead of trying to strip each others' gowns off, the girls voluntarily stripped off their gowns before the match and wrestled under regular rules in their underwear. Jackie showed the most apparent heelish tendencies and arrogantly tried to leave the ring with her gown still on, so Sable and Torrie grabbed her and stripped her themselves, forcing her to join the match after all. Stacy and Jackie ended up losing the match when Torrie pinned Jackie in a humiliating fashion, giving her panties a wedgie for good measure. The next night on Monday Night Raw, Jackie appeared to turn heel when she attacked Stacy before their match for the evening - but the match was interrupted and then cancelled by Vince McMahon, who came down to the ring to make an announcement about the upcoming WWE Draft. Stacy and Jackie's storyline was never brought up again, and both girls remained faces for the remainder of their WWE careers.
  • This was the gimmick of Cody Rhodes after he was voted most attractive superstar by the WWE Divas. It only ended once Mysterio broke his nose and (at least in Cody's mind) robbed him of his perfect looks.

Video Games

  • In Monday Night Combat, one of Mickey Cantor's post-game adverts for "Meet the Meatsacks" ends on the note of "Acquired Situational Narcissism Ensues".

Western Animation

  • Recess: Gus temporarily becomes king of the playground in one episode, and goes from quiet kid to Asshole Supreme. His ego is crushed when his status is revoked.
  • Subverted in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, episode "Sweet Stench of Success", since Mac and the others only think that Bloo was a case of this. Unusual, because Bloo is exactly the kind of person most people would expect to fall for this trope. Played straight, however, in "Bye Bye Nerdy", when Mac makes friends with the coolest kid on his school for a few hours.
  • One is bound to find this typical plot in just about any show on Nickelodeon, which prides itself on This Loser Is You protagonists.
  • Butch Hartman did this so many times on The Fairly Odd Parents, Timmy soon became an out and out Jerkass. Though not used nearly as incessantly, the plot found its way into Danny Phantom, in "Attack of the Killer Garage Sale" and "Lucky in Love".
  • Kim Possible, "Ron Millionaire": Ron gets $99 million for a snack food he invented while working in fast food in the third episode. He updates his wardrobe with excessive bling, attracts a posse of sycophants and gold diggers (including Bonnie), and in general acts like a jerk to those around him. In fact, temporary popularity going to Ron's head is a recurring plot (as was lampshaded in the aforementioned episode), as are his attempts to get said popularity.
  • Used in the South Park episode "The List", where Clyde becomes a tool when he thinks the girls in school think he's the hottest looking boy.
    • There are many episodes where Cartman thought he was living this trope, except what he thought made him "better" than the other kids was completely incorrect.
  • Also happened to Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender in the episode "Warriors of Kyoshi," though he originally started showing off to get Katara's attention.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Harry Osborn very deliberately dissociates himself from his former Three Amigo cohorts Gwen and Peter once he gets In with the In Crowd, snubbing them at social functions, and, in one notable moment, ignoring and leaping over fallen friend Gwen when fleeing a Super Villain. He mostly gets better after his absence to deal with his Globulin Green addiction.
  • On Family Guy Joe got leg transplants and becomes un-crippled. He becomes more exercise-obsessed than ever, leading him to abandon his slothful friends for more active (and more annoying) ones, and finally separate from Bonnie. This ends when he and his friends got into a massive brawl and Bonnie shoots him in both legs, causing him to once again be crippled (and humble).
    • Peter becomes increasingly narcissistic after getting extensive plastic surgery to make himself fit and beautiful. It ends when he gets in an accident and goes back to normal.
      • This actually happens a lot in Family Guy, Meg getting a makeover, Peter becoming a producer (and later stealing Lois' directing duties) for a theatre production, Brian writing a successful novel. That said it's not as if most of the cast aren't self important Jerkasses beforehand.
      • Connie D'Amico turning Chris into one of the popular kids.
  • One Episode of Sheep in The Big City has Sheep become a presenter, abandoning his friends. His friends then comes in his big public performance, holding signs say that they will love him even if he doesn't love them back.
  • Milo from The Oblongs, after his mom invented hambuckets.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Eight Misbehavin'", the family describe what happened to them during a nine-month mid-episode time-skip. Lisa reveals that she became the most popular girl in school, "but then blew it by being conceited."
    • Carl in one episode get promoted and ends up treating Homer like his 24 hour personal secretary.
  • Ickis did this on Aaahh Real Monsters all the time. Whether he'd temporarily gained riches, popularity, or notoriety, he never remembered what happened last time and always swung back into Jerkass mode.
  • Happened in the Jimmy Two-Shoes episode "The Masked Jackhammer", when Jimmy becomes the tag team partner to the titular wrestler and believes himself to be responsible for their victories, when they're really Jackhammer's.
  • In King of the Hill, Bill Dauterive is prone to this whenever he gains popularity and/or a position of power. In one episode, he uses the misunderstanding of the flood to his advantage as he makes Hank into a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong.
  • Geoff in Total Drama Action goes through this once he becomes the star of the Aftermath segments.
  • On American Dad, after Steve develops voluptuous breasts from an experimental performance enhancer that his father got from the CIA labs, he's suddenly in with the popular crowd, and abandons his friends. He has to go back to them after the Reset Button is activated.
    • According to one episode, Roger has suffered a case of this trope for over fifty years (and arguably hasn't fully gotten over it), after being convinced by his species he was sent to Earth as a decider of its fate, when in reality he was duped into working as a space aircraft's crash test dummy. After learning the truth however he sinks into a spiral of depression, leading Stan to give him duty over another important entity out of sympathy (an antidote to his deadly seafood allergy) only for Roger to once again abuse it.
  • Baloo fell victim to this a good few times in Tale Spin, making even the more consistent Small Name, Big Ego Rebecca look rather humble in comparison.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, "Sonic Rainboom": Rarity gains butterfly-like wings from a spell cast by Twilight Sparkle, and spends much of the episode showing them off and basking in the attention she gets. It ends badly (and comes close to ending in disaster) when she enters the Best Young Flier Competition as a last-minute contestant and pulls an Icarus by flying too close to the sun, causing her fragile wings to burn up and crumble.
    • In "The Mysterious Mare do Well", Rainbow Dash lets fame get to her head after she saves a few ponies. The way it was handled was not well received by many fans.
  • In the episode "Moustache Friday" of The Very Good Adventures of Yam Roll in Happy Kingdom, Yam Roll becomes an insufferable jerk after acquiring a mustache.
  • Parodied in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where Spongebob acts like this after appearing in a commercial, oblivious to the fact that he isn't famous.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003, Michelangelo wins the prestigious title of Battle Nexus Champion, and lords it over his brothers (especially Raphael, whom he defeated in the process). But he won one match by forfeit, and the final by pure luck. That doesn't stop him from bringing it up constantly for the entire next season. Of course, he gets his comeuppance when his final opponent challenges him to a rematch—and breaks the safety spell on the ring. Mikey finally has to admit he wasn't quite as confident as he pretended, and begs them for help training. Of course, then Michelangelo wins fairly — and lords it over everyone for the rest of the series.
  • Played with in the Rugrats episode "Chuckie is Rich". Chaz does act like a typical lofty rich man, but Stu is jealous and bratty and thinks he's become much worse than he is, which Didi calls him out on. Both men end up apologizing for their behavior when the status quo is restored.
    • Played straight in "Angelica's Secret Club," when Tommy is accepted into the titular club. The other babies get upset, thinking he's changed, leading Chuckie to confront him. Tommy gets over it when Angelica tells him he can't be friends with Chuckie anymore, and quits to form his own club. Which he allows Angelica to join.
  1. His father gives him some Life Savers to make him feel better, referring to an over-shown Life Savers commercial which was running at that time.