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File:Al Bundy 230.png

If I shoot you five times, do I get $60?

"Why can't the world just die?!"
Al Bundy, utterly despising his life as usual.

The loser protagonist is a Sister Trope to the This Loser Is You, but unlike that trope, the Loser Protagonist is not stupid, it's just that they may be considered a loser by the standard of our society's standard, or the society the story is set in. This character is generally subject to Character Development throughout the narrative to make them more sympathetic or interesting. This character may have underdog status, assuming they aren't so much of a "loser" that the audience thinks they should pull their socks up and get over themselves.

Traits a loser protagonist may have:

  • still lives with his parents when it is the norm to have moved out.
  • has a low-paying job or no job at all.
  • has to mooch off others.
  • has no degrees or diplomas.
  • has not attended university or college if it is considered the norm within the 'verse.
  • is untalented or powerless within a world where everyone has a special skill or power.
  • is obsessed with a thing considered geeky.
  • does not have a romantic interest.
  • is socially awkward to the point of coming across as creepy or stalkerish.
Examples of Loser Protagonist include:

Anime and Manga

  • Some series that feature an Unwanted Harem that have the protagonist in a worse position than Unlucky Everydude have this as the center of the Love Dodecahedron.
  • Common in many harem anime. The guy is usually a dateless loser until he meets the heroine, at which point every girl he meets falls for him for some arbitrary reason or for just no reason at all. Since this is a harem, the only people he meets is pretty girls.
  • Ataru Moroboshi from Urusei Yatsura. Mainly, because of his lechery and other human faults. He was born on the most unlucky day of the year in Japan. His own parents often have no shame in saying how much they wish he wasn't born. He's unpopular with most of the boys and almost all the girls at his high school. Even when the beautiful female alien, Lum, comes into his life, he's still unlucky because of all the baggage she brings with her.
  • Keiichi Morisato of Ah! My Goddess runs the "harem" example above pretty straight, except that he ultimately has no interest other than Belldandy, but his origins were the same, never getting a date due to his short stature.
    • Subverted, as Belldandy points out that he has qualities that make him rather desirable, such as the way he cares for antiquated junk that has no value to other people.
  • Satou from Welcome to The NHK is a Hikkikomori who does nothing but stay in his house all day, has never attended college, and acts like a jerk.
  • Kimba/Leo started out as a weak coward that everyone makes fun of in the 2009 TV-special of Kimba the White Lion.
  • Bamboo Blade's Sensei is a protagonist who mooches off his student's and recieves food parcels from his parents.

Comic Books

  • Scott Pilgrim could be considered a loser protagonist, as he has no job or qualifications and he is a member of a band that is apparently Giftedly Bad.
  • Spider-Man started out as a nerd picked on by bullies, and even after becoming a superhero he still had money problems, girl problems, reputation problems (in both identities), the whole nine yards. Back in The Sixties, this was revolutionary for superhero comics.


  • In The Wall and the Wing, one of the main characters can not fly and is classified as a "dead weight" in a world where most people can fly and flying is revered. This is a bit of a subversion as it turns out she has the power to camouflage herself to blend in with her surroundings

Live Action Film

  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop is overweight, lives with his mother, works as a mall security guard, stalks the women he likes via cameras and to quote Film Brain "He has a really creepy way with food"
  • Simon Pegg plays this in at least two movies, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, and Run Fatboy Run. Jury's still out on why he even got the role of the protagonist of the latter movie, because he's not even, well, you know... Fat.
  • Ricky Gervais also plays this in The Invention of Lying. In a world where lying doesn't exist and therefore everything is believed by everyone, his character is put down for being a talentless, overweight loser, and the girl that he wants rejects him on the grounds that their kids might look like him. Though shown to be kind of a jerk at times, his conscience ends up winning out, the viewer is expected to empathize with the hopeless underdog and root for him getting the girl in the end. The female lead eventually learns that being fat with a "snub nose" doesn't make him a bad prospective husband.
  • Jack Black's character from School of Rock is a deadbeat who's behind on his rent, got kicked out of his band, his only friends feel sorry for him, he has no girlfriend, he's got no qualifications, and he looks like a slob to boot.
  • John Cusack as Rob Gordon (Rob Fleming in the book, but the film plays it up much more) in High Fidelity. He lives on his own, but he's a hermetic record collector, obsesses about exes to the point of ridicule (one ex even made him drop out of college), and goes off the rails when his most recent ex gets a New Age Retro Hippie boyfriend. Something that's especially clear in the book is that he feels his life has stalled at this point, and that somehow the transition from adolescence to adulthood passed him by.

Live-Action TV

  • The all-time champion of loser protagonists is Al Bundy in Married... with Children. He's a forgotten high school football legend, works at a shoe store paraded by fat women, his family is dirt poor, he lives with a wife who wants nothing but nonstop sex and to watch Oprah forever, not to mention a Cordon Bleugh Chef (when she even cooks), his son is a Chivalrous Pervert and his daughter is a full-cylinders Dumb Blonde, he lives with two of the most annoying next-door neighbors you could ask for, a dog arguably smarter than the whole family combined, times two, and worst of all, his mother-in-law is the size of a circus carousel. He's also beaten up frequently, waging a futile war against womankind, humiliated at every beck and call, is the Butt Monkey in ANY situation, and lives every day realizing it won't get better until he goes back to sleep. In fact, poor Al has thought of divorce and suicide so much it's almost exclusively Played for Laughs. Sometimes, he even has near death experiences that convince him to go back to being miserable! Once he actually went to Hell after a Deal with the Devil only to find it on par with his actual life. Another time, he learns he's genuinely useless to society and his death is actually the greatest improvement to the world. Finally, he discovers that he will die miserable at age 65 of a fatal disease. Even so, Al has become virtually immune to the misery around him- he accepts it and embraces it, somehow finding ways to love the hand fate dealt him- even if the cards are useless. When Al does win at life, it's a rare victory that deserves a standing ovation. For your enjoyment, he's pictured above- just don't throw tomatoes at his face.
  • The show Everybody Hates Chris. He lives in a house where both his father and mother don't pay much attention to his needs over his little brother and sister. Speaking of which - his younger brother is handsome and most girls his age and even adult women fall for him the moment they see him. This is especially sad, because most of the girls Chris has a crush on during the show, end up falling for his younger brother in the end. His younger brother is also taller and more imposing. His little sister constantly torments him and gets away with it. Worst case scenario: Chris will get in trouble, even if it's obvious his little sister was in the wrong. He goes to a prominently white school where he is bullied by racist students. He gets no help from the teachers whom project their own racial prejudices on him - especially his homeroom teacher who thinks he's a welfare case, despite being raised in a hardworking two parent home. And worst of all: Whenever Chris tries to do anything meaningful, it always backfires on him by the end of the episode. This theme is played till the series end, Where Chris doesn't finish high school, so he takes his GED test. Before the results of the test are announced, the show suddenly ends, taking a cue from The Sopranos.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • To the very deepest degree, Homer J. Simpson. Bald, depressed, out of shape, constantly drinking at Moe's, works at a nuclear factory for Mr. Burns, a world-case dope, incredibly clumsy, a bad luck magnet, lacks common sense, the Butt Monkey, has to deal with Ned Flanders as his neighbor and the permanent effect of accidentally killing his wife, Maude, he's the subject of ridicule, especially with Marge's sisters, throttles his son Bart at the drop of a hat, and on top of all that, his father and mother have split up and he's suffered through it all his life. Even worse yet, when he reunites with his mother, she dies. With all the bad stuff that happens to him, he could even qualify as The Woobie! Well... at least you feel sorry for him. The good news is, Marge loves him deeply and the two manage to resolve their arguments no matter what the case.
    • Barney, Carl, Larry, Principal Skinner, and Groundskeeper Willie all count as secondary loser characters (though some more than others) that actually make Homer look good- especially Barney.