Our favorite hero jerks include Bender Bending Rodriguez, Rick Sanchez, Eric Cartman, Johnny Bravo, BoJack Horseman, and Vegeta.
A “hero jerk” is a character archetype that combines heroic qualities with less-than-admirable traits, such as arrogance, selfishness, or an abrasive personality.
These characters often exhibit behaviors that make them difficult to like or empathize with but ultimately redeem themselves through acts of bravery, selflessness, or personal growth.
The Art of Being a Heroic Jerk
A hero jerk may be an anti-hero, a protagonist with questionable morals, or a character oscillating between heroism and jerkiness. The complexity of these characters adds depth to their storylines, making them memorable and engaging despite their unlikable traits.
They walk a fine line between endearing and infuriating, making us love them just as much as we love to hate them.
8Bender Bending Rodriguez – Futurama’s Rusty Rebel
First on our list is the chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, bending robot with a heart of, well, not exactly gold. Bender Bending Rodriguez from the hit series Futurama may have a self-centered exterior, but he’s repeatedly proven that he’s willing to risk his shiny metal rear for his friends.
Sure, he’ll pickpocket, gamble, and bend the rules without a second thought, but at the end of the day, this lovable jerk cares more about his human (and alien) buddies than he lets on.
7Daffy Duck – Looney Tunes’ Feathered Frenemy
Who could forget the delightfully infuriating Daffy Duck from the classic Looney Tunes series? Forever overshadowed by his cool and collected counterpart, Bugs Bunny, Daffy can’t help but steal the spotlight with his antics.
He’s loud, abrasive, and often downright selfish, but something about his dogged determination and wacky schemes keeps us rooting for him. Despite his flaws, Daffy always entertains us with his absurd misadventures.
6Rick Sanchez – The Intergalactic Jerk of Rick and Morty
Genius, alcoholic, and complete jerk, Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty fame is a hero. Armed with a portal gun and a twisted sense of humor, he drags his grandson Morty on mind-bending adventures across the multiverse.
Rick’s ego knows no bounds, often leading to disastrous consequences for everyone involved. Yet, amid chaos, Rick’s softer side occasionally emerges, reminding us that beneath his abrasive exterior lies a complex, deeply flawed individual capable of caring, even if he’d never admit it.
5Eric Cartman – South Park’s Notorious Antagonist
Arguably one of the most controversial characters in cartoon history, Eric Cartman from South Park is the epitome of a heroic jerk. He’s manipulative, bigoted, and unapologetically selfish, often causing trouble for everyone around him.
However, in rare moments, Cartman has joined forces with his classmates to save the day, showing us that even the most devious of characters can be heroic when needed. Despite his infuriating personality, Cartman remains a fan favorite and a prime example of how to create a hilariously wicked character.
4BoJack Horseman – A Selfish Star with a Heart
The titular character of Netflix’s hit series BoJack Horseman is a complex study of a washed-up Hollywood actor who is also an anthropomorphic horse. BoJack’s selfishness and self-destructive behavior often lead to dire consequences for those who care about him.
However, his struggle to find redemption and the desire to be a better version of himself reveals the hero buried within. As we witness BoJack’s journey through fame, addiction, and self-discovery, it’s hard not to empathize with this deeply flawed yet undeniably captivating character.
3Sterling Archer – The World’s Most Dangerous Spy (and Jerk)
Sterling Archer, from the adult animated series Archer, is a master spy with a penchant for making enemies – and not just the bad guys. His narcissism, womanizing ways, and general disregard for protocol frequently land him in hot water with his colleagues and superiors.
But beneath his arrogant facade, Archer is a skilled and resourceful agent who saves the day, albeit in the most chaotic and unconventional ways. Despite his jerkiness, Archer’s undeniable charm and wit make him a character we can’t help but enjoy watching.
2Dr. Zoidberg – The Misunderstood, Malpractice Hero
Another gem from the Futurama universe, Dr. John A. Zoidberg is a bumbling, socially inept alien who serves as the Planet Express crew’s incompetent physician. Frequently shunned and ridiculed by his coworkers, Zoidberg remains eager to lend a helping claw, even if his actions often do more harm than good.
Nevertheless, there are times when Zoidberg’s unique skills and unorthodox methods save the day, proving that even the most unlikely of heroes can make a difference.
1Vegeta – Dragon Ball’s Proud Prince
From the legendary Dragon Ball series comes Vegeta, the proud Saiyan prince whose arrogance and thirst for power initially make him a formidable enemy. As the series progresses, Vegeta’s character evolves from a villainous rival to an anti-hero who grudgingly joins forces with protagonist Goku.
Though Vegeta’s hubris often gets in the way of teamwork, his unwavering determination and incredible fighting skills make him a valuable ally in the battle against evil. This iconic character’s growth and redemption story reminds us that even the most unlikable individuals can change and become heroes in their own right.