Plucky Comic Relief
"My brothers have my measure when it comes to fighting and dancing and thinking and reading books, but none of them is half my equal at lying insensible in mud."
—Prince Daeron, The Hedge Knight
Also known as the comic relief or the Funny Guy. A character whose primary role in the show is to relieve tension with oddball and/or hysterical antics. He has a job to do, but doesn't get into the thick of things and can stay somewhat detached. Due to the fact their purpose is to relieve tension, they almost always have immunity to dying when compared to the other characters. A guaranteed sign that the series is suffering from Cerebus Syndrome or that things are just going to go to Hell from here is to see whether this character either dies or has a complete and utter meltdown, no matter how deserved.
The term comes from Sam Rockwell's "Guy Fleegman" character in the movie Galaxy Quest (who, in a non-genreblind example of Lampshade Hanging, is afraid that he is only a Red Shirt, until another character ("Fred Kwan") suggests that maybe he is instead the Plucky Comic Relief), which of course was spoofing the television show Star Trek.
In some cases, similar to Stupid Boss. Many sidekicks fit this description as well. Also see Amusing Alien, for otherworldly characters whose only purpose is comedy. Finally See The Face, where they have a purpose greater than comedy.
Anime and Manga
- Shinagawa from Ask Dr. Rin.
- Helen from Claymore: the sole humorous character in this very dark series. Indulging in everything from over-eating to Hypocritical Humor, including a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine with uber-stoic Deneve and on one memorable occasion actually getting drunk.
- Shiro Kabuto from Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger. Although he is smarter than he looks and he can be an Badass Adorable, he often provides comic relief, or by pulling Too Dumb to Live stunts or by being a Deadpan Snarker and the voice of reason.
- In the last episode of Slayers NEXT, Lina concludes that the only reason Martina survived the confrontation with the Big Bad was because she is the Plucky Comic Relief character.
- Code Geass features a Britannia comic relief, Rivalz Cardemonde and a Japanese comic relief, Shinichiro Tamaki. Lelouch can confirm that. He's been around both of 'em. Rivalz' friend Lelouch Lamperouge by day, Tamaki's idol, Zero by night.
- Uzura in Princess Tutu spends much of the second season filling this role, although she has a few plot-important moments towards the end and is never quite able to stay completely detached from the action.
- Shiho from Mai-Otome. Though some of her antics are usually the cause of (or contribute to) the problem of the day in early episodes, she becomes surprisingly effective near the end, while retaining her goofy madness.
- Death Note
- Matsuda. Until the last episode.
- Misa Amane. Indeed she and Matsuda were the only characters who used most of the "sillier" anime tropes, like puffy cheeks, Face Faults and, at one point, repeatedly hitting Light on the chest with Looney Toons sound effects).
- Ryuk. He makes off-hand humorous comments that usually involve apples even during the most serious scenes, and almost always chuckles loudly at any new plot or character development that occurs.
- Berserk: Puck and Isidro apparently exist in part to keep the work from collapsing under its own cynicism during the darker stretches of the series.
- Bat in Fist of the North Star was the plucky comic relief sidekick until the Time Skip, where he Took a Level in Badass.
- Sena in Cross Game
- Smith from Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin who evolves into a Cool Old Guy in Ginga Densetsu Weed.
- Gomamon from Digimon.
- Isaac and Miria, the very, very out-of-it Outlaw Couple of Baccano!!. They also miraculously avoid injury beyond paper-cut level on a regular basis in a show with a violence rating and body count of a typical Quentin Tarantino film. The lone exception to this is one heavily-bleeding cut Isaac acquires on his while saving Czeslaw, which reveals their less-than-mortal nature to the boy when it immediately stitches itself up.
- Sailor Mini Moon in the Sailor Moon anime. Her Pink Sugar Heart Attack rarely worked, and even then it was pathetically weak. This is in contrast to the manga where it actually does work well on a regular basis.
- Yaya Yuiki from Shugo Chara
- Darker than Black:
- The Clueless Detective duo. They tend to only be involved with whatever Spy-Versus-Spy craziness is going on tangentially and accidentally, and their Non-Standard Character Design and use of anime effects like Cross-Popping Veins and Blue with Shock in a show that mostly uses a more realistic style makes it clear that they aren't to be taken seriously.
- Saito of the Japanese police. He's kind of like Matsuda in that he's a member of a special taskforce with a tendency toward humorous bumbling (Saito has twice been shown using his own name when undercover), and his unrequited crush on Kirihara is played for laughs. He's also something of a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, which makes sense, as he's a Muggle who has regularly been up against superpowered sociopaths and has survived.
- Naoki from Nana fits this trope particularly well: Despite all the drama that goes on in the series, he is oddly immune to it and (in present time) seemingly oblivious. The writer herself admits that he was written to round out the two rival bands in the story—in essence, he's basically a throwaway character with no real backstory—but he usually ends up being used as Mr. Exposition in side stories.
- When he's not being a Badass, or the resident Butt Monkey (yes, he's actually both), Jun Manjoume of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX tends to be this, especially when it comes to his hilarious crush on Asuka or when his spirit partners are involved.
- Up until recently, Keigo Asano from fit this trope.
- Don Kanonji, too.
- And Kon!
- Kanon: Jun Kitagawa.
- Clannad: Sunohara Youhei, Expy of Jun Kitagawa.
- Jackie Gudelhian from Future GPX Cyber Formula serves as this in the series.
- Misato Katsuragi and her pet Pen-Pen in the otherwise quite dark anime Neon Genesis Evangelion count as this. Pen-Pen considerably more than Misato, it has to be said. When Pen-Pen leaves, you know that the series has totally given up on plucky comic antics altogether and has now completely moved into depressing territory.
- Bucky and Pauly Cracker from Kimba the White Lion.
- Ueda in Japan Inc.
- Alielle from El-Hazard: The Magnificent World.
- PS238 Firedrake claimed that "comic relief" is one of his superpowers. Which is fortunate for him, since in superhero business fire "doesn't come in handy much", and the Elementalists enlisted him simply because with their theme they needed some fire-themed guy. Also, he got wits very much in working condition. Thus he mostly just flies around, looks cool (which helps to sell their team's merchandise, too), taunts and distracts the adversaries and drops one-liners.
- Guy in Galaxy Quest fears for the entire film that he is destined to die, as his character on the show, Crewman 26, was a typical Red Shirt that died in the first act of his only episode. Fred eventually calms his fear by suggesting Guy is actually this trope. To some extent, Fred himself also qualifies for spending most of the film oblivious to, or at least unreasonably calm about, the ostensible dangers they're going through. The original cut of the film depicted him a stoner, though this plot element was removed when the film was recut to get a family-friendly rating. It's still somewhat obvious that he is in the final film.
- Last Action Hero. Lampshaded by Genre Savvy Danny Madigan. "Oh, shit. I'm the comic relief! This is not going to work!"
- Aside from being The Lancer to Tom Cody's The Hero, Billy Fish filled this role for the scene where he refuses to give Ben Gunn the money. Tom manages to convince Billy, which follows with the latter complaining under his breath. And should we mention that Billy is played by Rick Moranis, an actual comedian?
- The Largo brothers, Pavi and Luigi, fill this role in Repo! The Genetic Opera. Of course, in a movie like Repo, the comic relief duo is made up of a murderer and a rapist...
- Pintel and Ragetti serve as the comic relief in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
- Jack, the main character of Big Trouble in Little China, falls squarely into this category, although he thinks he's the hero.
- C-3PO and R2-D2 in Star Wars. This is the intended role of Jar-Jar Binks in the prequel movies, too. Meesa regret answerin' the casting call.
- The Lion King: Timon and Pumbaa the wisecracking meerkat-warthog duo.
- Pippin and Merry in the first Lord of the Rings movie. Gimli, to some extent, in the other two.
- Cabbie in Escape from New York.
- Johnny in Airplane!.
- Beast Boy from Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo. All the way from beginning to end.
- Sam Rockwell actually used the term himself when describing his role as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2.
- Riley from National Treasure.
- Humphrey from Alpha and Omega serves as the snappy one-liner of the movie. he is usually seen hanging out with his other omega buddies and is shown to try to cheer up an alpha named Kate, whom he likes to be with.
- Justified in that this is stated to be the role of the Omegas in the pack; to break up fights and keep everyone's spirits up.
- Pavel Chekov increasingly takes on this role in the Star Trek films, the height of this occurring during the fourth movie.
- The Mystery Science Theater 3000-subject Attack of the The Eye Creatures has the Peeping Tom Air Force guys, who manage to both avoid having any plot relevance or give their actions any actual humor or other, non-repulsive qualities.
- Bluebell, the comedian rabbit of Watership Down, serves as a comic relief not only to the readers, but also is an in-story tension breaker. Keehar the seagull serves the purpose in the film adaptation.
- Madame Khokhlakov's role in The Brothers Karamazov is to provide lighthearted, trivial discussion versus everything else that goes on in the story. She is eternally cheerful and will talk you to death. Dostoevsky used her to insult his critics at the time by having her agree with their works.
- Harry Potter
- Fred and George. As the series gets Darker and Edgier, one loses an ear and the other dies.
- Ron Weasley also fills this role within the main trio, and he's an even earlier gauge of the series' impending dark turn: as early as book four, his general status as Chew Toy produces some moments of unexpectedly bitter resentment. By book seven, he's primed for a complete meltdown.
- A casual reading of the Witches novels would suggest that Nanny Ogg's job is to keep bringing the funny, while Granny Weatherwax and Magrat get all the Crowning Moments Of Awesome. And this is the case, but what's not always apparent is that this is exactly how she likes things, and if she wanted to be Granny, she easily could be.
- In the Watch novels, the role is filled by the Watch's most senior and least effective coppers, dim-witted Sergeant Colon and kleptomaniac Gonk Corporal Nobbs.
- Jacob from Twilight. He is the funniest character in the book. And probably the only one.
- I agree, Jacob is the only one with character in Twilight
- Basil Stag Hare in Redwall.
- Faddey Bulgarin in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar.
- Greg Sanders, the DNA specialist on CSI was originally an excellent example of this trope. Later in the series he has several serious character arcs. He also becomes one of the most experienced CSIs on the team. His role has been taken over by Hodges and the supporting Lab Rats.
- So is Marshall on Alias.
- Taylor Townsend of The OC. As the series Wacky Girl she was a welcome relief from the sometimes overpowering angst of the penultimate season. Usually her wackiness was paired with Seth and Summer's in the aforementioned season to provide comic drama, if such a thing exists.
- Hurley's role on Lost began this way, but has become less so as the character has become more important.
- Eric on Boy Meets World started off as the Chick Magnet but when that role was taken over by Shawn he became this. And then things just got weird...
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander and later Andrew. Though the writing is uniformly witty enough that all characters get their day in the Plucky Comic Relief sun.
Kaylee Did Zoe seem a little, er, funny to you at breakfast?
Wash C'mon Kaylee. We all know I'm the funny one.
- And pretty much deconstructed with Lorne: the toll that being the Comic Relief takes on him by the fifth season is seriously rough.
- Klinger of M*A*S*H so seldom got into the dramatic plots of the episodes his Sarcasm Failure was more effective than Hawkeye's ("Mail Call Three", "Period of Adjustment", "Death Takes a Holiday").
- Chloe O'Brian on 24 is this, as far as a serious show like this allows anyone to be.
- Both Hiro and Ando on Heroes.
- Joxer (the Mighty) on Xena: Warrior Princess. No matter how hard or how often he tries to be The Lancer, the Anti-Hero, or the Villain Protagonist, poor man.
Joxer: Now listen, I'm fierce, and I have a lust for blood. As a matter of fact, if a couple of days go by and I haven't shed some blood, I get very depressed. Blood and me go together like a horse and chariot! I once bathed in a tub of blood! My nickname is Bloody Joxer!
Xena: If you like blood so much? Keep talking.
- The Lone Gunmen on the X Files. This did not save them from a random and contrived death in the last season, in an otherwise comedic episode.
- Lampshaded in the Doctor Who episode The Unicorn And The Wasp, when the Doctor calls Donna "The plucky young woman who helps me out":
Donna: 'The plucky young woman who helps me out'?
The Doctor: No policewomen in 1926.
Donna: I'll pluck you in a minute!
- In murder mystery Harper's Island, Cal and Chloe provide much-needed wacky romance hijinx between all the deaths. They even have a short breather episode after the head spade incident when they try to retrieve Chloe's engagement ring. When they both die in episode 11 of 13, it's a sign that there won't be any more funny bits thence onwards.
- Randy Disher in Monk his quirky antics and wild theories really give a nice dose of humor in the show. Still he is semi-competent and is always in the right place when he's needed.
- Tyron Lannister can lighten up any scene in Game of Thrones, even the most violent ones (his bludgeoning a man to death with his shield easily counts as one of his most badass and amusing scenes in the series.) He also bucks the trend in that he is neither dim-witted nor genuinely concerned for anyone around him.
- Oh, he's plenty concerned for others. He just doesn't show it often.
- Sister Sisto in The Flying Nun. In the pilot it was explained that she is studying English sayings in preparation for her eventualy teaching in the United States. From that point on her running joke was to say something like "We need to get on the circle!" to immediatly be corrected by one of the others "Uh, that's 'ball', Sister."
- Gnomes in Dungeons & Dragons.
- The Orks serve this function in Warhammer 40,000 as an entire race of psychopathic manchildren with a healthy dose of Crosses the Line Twice.
- Their Fantasy Counterparts fill a similar role in the game, but seeing as the setting is notably less grimdark, they are obnviously not the only race that fills this role. The Skaven are a good example of this, due to them being both Stupid Evil and Laughably Evil with their Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and all. Add to that hamster wheels with lasers, and it should be pretty clear that they fit into this spot too.
- In Magic: The Gathering, Squee from the Weatherlight Saga. For example, the flavor text for Fool's Tome. More generally, goblins typically fill such a role. There was a Running Gag where goblins that could destroy things had a profession related to whatever it was they were destroying - Goblin Gardener destroyed lands, Goblin Medic dealt damage to creatures, and so on.
- Goblins in Pathfinder, in a disturbing sort of way. Dangerously stupid, Big Eaters, Ugly Cute, Psychopathic Manchildren, canonically so distractable that they pause in the middle of combat to raid the refreshments, and fond of singing little songs about eating people. They also serve as Butt Monkeys in a lot of official art. Getting pwned by a flumph. Demonstrating status effects.
- Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice, who was written in specifically as this. His life offstage is referred to (he's got a family and a mistress), but onstage he's mostly there to give overdramatic monologues, spew Incredibly Lame Puns and complain about how converting Jews to Christianity will raise the price of pork. Gratiano qualifies, too.
- Luther Billis in South Pacific.
- Costard and Don Armado in Love's Labour's Lost.
- Nick Bottom and his "crew of patches" in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night.
- Launce in Two Gentlemen of Verona.
- Lewa from Bionicle.
- Really any Toa of Air could count.
- Although Teddie from Persona 4 is this trope incarnate, just about every other character in the Investigation Team fulfill this role at some point or another in the game.
- Yosuke also relates to this trope, although really more towards the beginning.
- Barry Wheeler from Alan Wake.
- Portal 2 subverts this with Wheatley, a moronic personality core who escorts the player through the early areas of the game and, with your help, attempts to engineer a coup against GLaDOS. The subversion comes when Wheatley, upon successfully replacing GLaDOS in the Enrichment Center mainframe, goes into full A God Am I mode and becomes the Big Bad of the game.
- Quina Quen in Final Fantasy IX.
- Since Divergent Character Evolution turned him into a Lovable Coward, Luigi tends to fill this role in the Super Mario Bros. games, especially in the Mario & Luigi series.
- Alistair from Dragon Age is an interesting case in that he does not immediately turn into The Scrappy by being well aware of how dreadful the situation is and what all is at stake. He is also very competent and does not constantly cause disaster by doing stupid things and his very Deadpan Snarking is Funny.
- Tyrell in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. Emphasis on the "plucky".
- Lee Phillips in season 2 of Kate Modern.
- A lot of them in the Whateley Universe. The junior high mages known as 'the three little witches', Go-Go (a speedster who used to go by 'Quickie' until she found out why everyone was laughing), Generator. Oh God, Generator. Wacky comic relief in other people's stories, horrifyingly effective hero in her own stories. There are school armbands that identify the pacifists (who won't fight back if they're bullied so you're supposed to leave them alone) and the Ultraviolents (Exactly What It Says on the Tin). Only Generator wears both. Not at the same time, of course; that would be silly. She flips a coin every morning.
- Disney Animated Films usually have one. And so do all of the movies that copy their formulas.
- Shrek: Donkey is a parody of the Plucky Comic Relief — when he isn't being a straight example.
- Danny O'Farrell of Fillmore!.
- Plucky the Mallard from Tiny Toon Adventures
- Beast Boy from Teen Titans. Oh-so-very-much. Now with 100% more lampshade!
Beast Boy: *being dragged into the dark* "See? funny guy goes fiiiiirst!"
- Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender is this, while also being The Smart Guy and a Badass Normal. Also, Momo's role is usually to lighten things up.
- In the classic Warner Brothers cartoon Drip-Along Daffy, Daffy Duck is the supposed western hero, while Porky Pig is explicitly called the "comedy relief", dressed in a Gabby-Hayes sidekick outfit. Of course, Porky is five hundred times more competent than Daffy, and ends up defeating the villain and being appointed sheriff.
- Porky's character from Daffy's Duck Dodgers cartoon and series, Eager Young Space Cadet, is also supposed to be this.
- Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible, while also being one of The Heroes of the show, though he's typically in a sidekick role.
- The Flash in Justice League Unlimited. Considering his death sparked a totalitarian dictatorship in another universe and nearly caused the apocalypse in the regular one, his angstlessness plays a very important role in keeping the Justice League from going off the deep end.
- The Fairly OddParents: While it's hard to find a character that isn't comic relief, Cosmo is hands-down pluckier comic reliefier.
- As serious as The Secret of NIMH was in tone, there was a certain crow that happens to be the comic relief. And that crow in particular is Jeremy.
- On Xiaolin Showdown Raimundo starts off being pretty much just this.
- Parodied in Titan Maximum, where it's stated that each military squad are required to consist of one of these. The one shown is woefully aware that he's totally unfunny since he originally just wanted a desk job.
- Stanley in The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan fits this trope to a T.
- Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic can't get any pluckier than this.