Jaded Washout

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Al Bundy at work.

Cynical, jaded and world-weary, disrespected by family and friends, underpaid, struggling to achieve basic goals and recognition. Lives on past glories.

He may often be heard complaining about not getting justly rewarded for all the effort he puts into his work, though closer inspection will show him to be a profoundly uninspired if not outright lazy worker.


Compare with Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, This Loser Is You. The Jerk Jock has a particular tendency to evolve into one of these. Contrast Small Name, Big Ego.

Examples of Jaded Washout types:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Film[edit | hide]

  • Bob Parr from The Incredibles, post Super Registration Act. No wonder he Jumps at the Call. His family life, while a bit a shaky, is stable compared to the other examples of this trope.
  • Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.
  • Walt in Gran Torino is a subversion. He's genuinely Badass, and while his family doesn't pay him much attention or respect, the rest of his neighbourhood certainly does.
    • Another interpretation is that everyone knows Walt is a Jaded Washout except himself: His wife asked his catholic priest to watch after him after her death because she knows that he has no connection to his sons. Everyone thinks he is an old crazy man. Only after Walt realizes his racism is a flimsy excuse to feel better at the expense of others can he be a hero.
  • Trip McNeely in Can't Hardly Wait. Mike Dexter is also on his way to becoming this, as shown by the Where Are They Now? Epilogue.
  • Female example: Mavis Gary in Young Adult is a former Alpha Bitch prom queen who's now in her thirties, divorced, and ghostwrites teen-lit novels in order to recreate her high school Glory Days.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Jeeter Lester in Tobacco Road was once a respectable cotton farmer, but gradually fell into squalid, shiftless poverty.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Former Trope Namer Al Bundy, from Married... with Children. Although anyone who has worked in a degrading, low-paying, miserable, menial, service-industry job may find him less of an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist than people who haven't. (Work a job where you are regularly abused by customers for a few years and Al Bundy will be your patron saint.) Although a chauvinist, a loud mouth, and a loser, Al Bundy himself isn't without his virtues. He genuinely loves his wife and family though he was loath to admit it, regularly sacrificed for his children, and would never cheat on Peggy. (But he did go to the Nudie Bar and loved his Big'Uns.)
  • Jack Malloy, from the MWC ripoff -inspired sitcom Unhappily Ever After. Used car salesman.
  • Pete Hornberger from 30 Rock is implied to be this at home. However, 30 Rock is a Work Com, not a Dom Com, so we never actually see Pete at home, and don't see much of his wife, either.
  • Due to the complaints of parents groups and his marriage to Rita Repulsa, by the end of the second season of Power Rangers this has happened to Lord Zedd of all people. Right down to his father-in-law's evil empire stated to be conquering Zedd's former territories in a throwaway line.
  • Ray Drecker from Hung became this without even realizing it.
  • Ben from My Family includes aspects of this - although not the "underpaid" part, being a dentist.
  • Denny Crane!
  • Howard Moon. Only without the "past glories" part. Any time he makes reference to any kind of former triumph, you get the distinct impression he's wildly exaggerating, or just lying outright.
    • Making Howard a bizarre combination of the Jaded Washout and the Ted Baxter, since he variates between thinking he's a smooth talking, artistic, dark and brooding genius, with understanding that he's utterly pathetic
  • Georg Bjarnfredarson from Naeturvaktin clings desperately to his memories of the happy young adult life he had in a Swedish leftist commune and routinely trots out his five university degrees as proof of his superiority. He is a sad middle-aged man with serious personality flaws that make him unemployable in anything above the most menial positions.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman makes this Older Than They Think.
  • Zero from The Adding Machine can't even boast of any past glories other than having worked twenty-five years at the same job without missing a single day. His ignorance, intolerance, and total lack of both imagination and achievement mark him as a failure of the first order.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Nostalgia Chick knows she's a waste of space deep down. When Dark Nella is about to end her pitiful, nerdy, judgemental, shut-in existence, she's only really upset at being called nerdy.
    • The Nostalgia Critic had a year long Story Arc where he was getting more and more miserable about his job, involving bitching at other contributors for doing it better than him and trying to invade a country because he was desperate for some kind of power.
    • With Ask That Guy With The Glasses's ongoing Humiliation Conga, we get to watch the process of how someone can go from cool and collected to almost completely pitiful.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In some episodes of The Simpsons, Homer exhibits this trope - particularly in the spoof of the 49up series of documentaries, in which Homer was dissatisfied with his life in general. At other times, of course, Homer seems to invert this trope.
    • Homer has plenty to regret in life, but is usually just too light-hearted to let it get him down. He always admits at the end that he also has a lot to be proud of.
  • Charlie Brown has time-after-time been portrayed with at least some of the descriptions given by this trope. In fact, there are some who had speculated that he will grow up to become Homer Simpson.
    • Or the former trope namer who ended up marrying The Red Haired Girl.
  • Duckman.
  • Simon Trent, the typecast actor who played the Gray Ghost, years after the show was cancelled, in Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Peter Griffin.
  • The Small Name, Big Ego page mentions a couple of high-school-jock types (Dash from Danny Phantom, and the Bradster from American Dragon: Jake Long) who are actually prototypical Jaded Washouts; completely aware that, lacking any real redeeming features, these are their glory days, and they're keen to milk the time for all it's worth, before they flunk out of college and spend the rest of their lives pining for a time they spent making sure the unpopular kids would be too resentful to show up to the high school reunion.
  • Rusty Venture. A Former Child Star, these days he's a bitter, cynical, "Diet pill" addicted has been. Thanks in no small part to his amazingly traumatic childhood.