Super Loser

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Aww, vampy wanna cry?
"And you're sure this isn't a fanboy thing? 'Cause I've fought more than a couple of pimply overweight vamps who called themselves Lestat."
Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Part of the appeal of fiction is the conceit that gaining super powers, becoming a vampire, or generally just making contact with the Masquerade changes ordinary characters into cool, debonair, threatening or just generally Badass versions of themselves. No matter how mundane they were in life, the supernatural is the great cosmic equalizer and Wish Fulfillment for the audience.

Yeah. Fiction doesn't always play that way.

Usually getting Stock Super Powers or being Cursed with Awesome makes you, well, awesome. However, some characters are just so snot-nosedly uncool no amount of undeath, lycanthropy, cyborg implants, or Super Serum can change that. It takes a certain Je ne sais quoi that this character lacks.

Maybe it's because they're too much of a Jerkass, aren't assertive at all or maybe are hopelessly geeky/nerdy/ditzy etc. Rather than become a fearsome vampire, they won't even inspire fear in old ladies... who will kick their ass. Rather than a Superman Expy, the guy who just became a Flying Brick is still a dork, just with heat vision. Kind of like a Law of Conservation for Butt Monkey status. If lucky, but only then, and not likely then, they'll escape the Pretender Diss.

This trope can apply to characters of any kind, from protagonist to minion (though not usually antagonist, unless they're a minor one). A Hero who starts off as a Super Loser does usually manage to get the hang of it eventually, either taking a level in badass or becoming competent in the use of their powers while being, personality wise, the same loser they were pre-change. Interestingly, this kind of Super Loser can be very endearing. Minor antagonists and minions are usually Smug Supers with an overinflated ego, frequently due to a bad case of Transhuman Treachery. Expect the Comic Relief to take them down most satisfyingly, and force them to help talk about the Big Bad's plan. Naturally, they are often Boisterous Weaklings, when they can't use their powers properly at least.

This trope is easily explained when the transformation is Blessed with Suck, so only characters who were extremely cool beforehand can keep a measure of that afterwards. Since this happens often with Vampires, see also/compare Your Vampires Suck.

Please limit examples to in story applications. Fan derision outside of a work is not this trope.

Examples of Super Loser include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In the graphic novel Life Sucks, our hero Dave is a vampire who refuses to kill people for a blood fix. He gets his blood from the blood bank instead, and his vampire powers are consequently weak.
  • One of the few vampires in the Marvel Universe to keep his old personality after the transformation was a nerdy producer named Harold H. Harold. He was occasionally a serious problem, but that's because he mostly appeared in Howard the Duck.
  • The anthology series Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children had an issue called "Arnold: Confessions of a Blood Junkie". Among other things, the title character is still the same overweight nebbish he was when alive (and is in fact too fat to fly in bat form).
  • Even though he's earned the general respect of the superhero community, Spider-Man has always been and will always be this to some degree. Face it, he's not a war hero, a millionaire playboy, or a god; he's the dweeb that swings around in red-and-blue tights. Some people enforce the "loser" part more than others.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Pearl the record keeper from Blade.
    • Which leads to some slight Moral Dissonance when Eric and Karen blithely fry him with some high-tech weaponry, and Karen coldly justifies this action by saying: "He moved." (Which is itself a cruel irony, since the poor thing was so disgustingly fat that he could barely move!)
  • In The Lost Boys, the coven of vampires might seem "cool" at first, but in the end, only the Man Behind the Man is able to stand up to the Frog brothers, who are hardly top of the line in the world of fictional vampire hunters.
  • In Innocent Blood, the infected gangsters ought to be the ultimate villains you'd Love to Hate - suave mob bosses with supernatural powers - but it's pretty obvious that compared to Marie, they haven't a clue what they're doing.
  • Syndrome from The Incredibles is a terrific villain and a horrible super hero. No matter how many gadgets he has, becoming equal to supers, he is still a loser.
    • For reference, when he shows off in front of civilians after "stopping" the invading Omnidroid, he absentmindedly tosses a tanker he was levitating into the distance while power posing. The rest of his "fight" with the Omnidroid consisted of him getting pimp-slapped into a building and passing out.
  • Titan/Tighten started out this way in Megamind ... then crossed the Moral Event Horizon into complete villainhood
  • Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger was the endearing kind of these when he was stuck in the USO after getting his powers. Still, it was less an intrinsic trait than the fact that nobody gave him a chance.
    • He was forced to change the situation himself when he went AWOL and rescued 400 people from the bad guys.
  • Subverted in Kung Fu Hustle. As a criminal, Sing is a total loser. When confronted with The Beast, he does a Heel Face Turn. He subsequently gains superhuman powers and defeats The Beast in super-heroic fashion.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Best Discworld example is probably Arthur Winkins. He's middle aged and not particularly slim, which carries over into his bat form, leading to one scene in which he was thrown around in that shape, iirc by the ears. His wife is very much into the whole style thing, despite not being a vampire herself. However, she doesn't let him bite young women's necks. He complains a lot about having to wear evening dress all the time, and the difficulty of trying to build a dungeon when you live in a row house. That's Count Notfarotou, as Doreen will insist. His main issue is that, unlike most vampires, he wasn't turned when he was young and biting Doreen would have held that sort of appeal for either of them; he inherited it along with the title after some uncle or other died, and the lawyer, conveniently, happened to suck blood literally as well.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • George from Being Human (UK) is probably the nerdiest werewolf ever. Plus he's Blessed with Suck, so it didn't make his life any easier, either. In contrast, Tully who is also a werewolf actually manages to carry it off pretty well, managing a raw animal magnetism at times and being very genial. Of course, the show doesn't really like dogs, and he's actually very emotionally scarred over his situation, having lost his family. He's overjoyed to find George, and becomes suicidal over his rejection once George finds out he was the werewolf who turned him.
    • There's also Seth. Even among other vampires he's something of a joke.
      • In fact, it's pretty much a given that almost any vampire in this show, unless he's the Big Bad or part of the show's Power Trio is going to be one of these.
  • Most vampires in the Buffyverse are either badasses or nameless cannon fodder. However, Buffy mentions staking a few pimply teenage vampires who called themselves Lestat.
    • Interestingly, Alternate Universe Willow and Xander, as vampires, are utterly terrifying. Harmony? No. Despite them being shy (Willow) and goofy (Xander) in life, the change made them grade A Dragon material. The demon that inhabits vampires had a lot of untapped potential to work with in both. Harmony... well, even demons can't make monsters out of brain dead mice.
      • Mentioning "Harmony has minions" tends to be met with disbelief and giggles. Rightfully so when you see her in person trying to act evil.
  • Eddie from True Blood was a frumpy middle-aged closet case before becoming a vampire... and while he's still frumpy as a vampire, at least he's out of the closet...
  • Misfits - a show about five anti-social "ASBO" teens who get magically imbued with superpowers - probably ought to be the poster child for this trope. The protagonists have got to be the biggest bunch of losers and freaks ever to shamble tentatively into the superhero sphere. Never mind the fact that they're all young offenders with a vast array of psychological issues and attitude problems, or indeed that their powers essentially mock them by creating cruel caricatures of their respective weaknesses, flaws and fears; or even that they are basically unable to mitigate or restain the (often unpleasant or disastrous) effects of said powers and have shown remarkably few signs of being able to control them at all. No...they also have to "re-pay their debt to society" by wearing tacky orange jumpsuits and spending their days picking up litter and washing graffiti from the walls of the urban jungle as part of their community service programme. Surely superheroes are above such things, right? Wrong.
  • Rory from "My Babysitter's a Vampire". Being a vampire only got rid of the glasses and the asthma.


Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • White Wolf has this as the default for starting PC's in just about every gameline. The default for Vampire is for player characters to be this. Yes, you'll get special powers, and are vastly superior to even the greatest of Muggles, but you're now caught up in a massive political system were everyone else is much more experienced than you, and every move you make is at the beck and call of beings whose power you could never reach by experience.
    • Promethean: The Created goes one step further - the superpowers come with the rejection of every living thing on the planet. And the planet itself.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Dan Hibiki from the Street Fighter series. He trained for years to become a skilled martial artist, and actually developed superhuman abilities—just to nowhere near the level of the rest of the cast.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The vampire Edwin from Sam and Fuzzy.
  • Sam from Sluggy Freelance.
    • Made doubly impressive in that he is the last of the Lysinda Circle vampires, who get a very nice deal compared to most vampires, but he is STILL a pathetic loser.
    • Any inhabitant of the "Dimension of Lame" converted into a demon count. Transformed into vicious hell-spawn or not, Poke the Poodle level evil is still an order of magnitude more vile than anything they can come up with. As one of the actual demons note: "You turn wussy mortals into demons, you end up with wussy demons."
  • Vilbert von Vampire from Eight Bit Theater, a (surprise surprise) vampire who still lives with his parents and who dabbles in LARPing.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • One of the superheroes active in the Boston area of the Global Guardians PBEM Universe was The Patriot, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the New England Patriots football team. Gifted with heightened strength and toughness, he was nevertheless a pretty ineffective crimefighter due to basic incompetence. The character was generally considered to be a cheap Take That on the part of creator Jack Butler, who had long held that his two favorite football teams were "the Miami Dolphins and any team playing the New England Patriots."


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Played for Laughs and Refuge in Audacity with Captain Hero from Drawn Together who takes the Jerkass aspect of this trope to Omnicidal Maniac extremes. He's even referred to in show as "The Lamest Superhero EVER".
  • The Consortium in Generator Rex after each of them gets one of the Meta-Nanite powers and become living robots. Even with their awesome superpowers they are still a bunch of petty middle-aged men with no real clue how to use their powers effectively. They rely entirely on Black Knight's lead to accomplish anything.