Mean popular characters (regardless whether they are girls or boys) is a character trope that shares between two genders, so both will be discussed in this page with reasons explaining why they are bad on their own and other information. They are also the opposite of The Friendly Loved Boy/Girl trope.
Mean Popular Girl
The mean popular girl (also known as the "alpha bitch" or "Queen Bee") is a stock character in most TV shows or movies or some video games and some books that usually take place in a high school setting. They're often portrayed as a teenage girl who is popular among the school but is often mean and prissy to less popular girls, mostly towards the main female protagonist. She is usually very attractive and often has sidekicks following her everywhere.
Male variants of that cliché also exist too where they're called the mean popular boy (also known as the "alpha bastard"). Check below for more info.
Tsundere characters are also part of the range from the cold "silent treatment" to the hotheaded "kindergartener who pushes you into the sandbox." The reasons behind a tsundere's behavior vary widely, but usually boil down to the conflict between their feelings of affection towards a love interest, and their reaction to having those feelings. Though in most examples the reason has something to do with a Madonna-Whore Complex or at least a fear of Slut-Shaming. Truth in Television for many teenage girls: as they both try too hard to be attractive and also try to look like they aren't trying. In an adult though, this type of behavior is generally seen as distastefully immature. The tsun ツン in the Japanese word tsundere ツンデレ comes from the word tsuntsun つんつん, which is a mimetic word for "irritable" or "grumpy," meaning someone is tsuntsun when they become hard to approach and to talk with.
The term was originally used to describe characters who began with a harsh outgoing personality, but slowly revealed a soft and vulnerable interior over time, which made this a plot trope as much as it is a character trope. Over the years the character archetype has become flanderized, and is now generically associated with a character who flips between the two emotional states at the slightest provocation, and usually at a specific person rather than a general sociability problem. The former is usually referred as Classic Tsundere and the latter as Modern Tsundere. A Tsundere, especially a classic one, is usually a Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
The tsuntsun can range from the cold "silent treatment" to the hotheaded "kindergartner who pushes you into the sandbox." The reasons behind a tsundere's behavior vary widely, but usually boil down to the conflict between their feelings of affection towards a love interest, and their reaction to having those feelings.
A himedere also refers to a character who wishes to be treated like a princess by the person she loves, even if she is not actual royalty. This word is an abbreviation of "hime" (), which means "princess", and "deredere" (デレデレ), which means "lovey-dovey". A himedere can be truly befriended by the few who can see past their ego. Sometimes the himedere takes their companions for granted and chooses to treat them unfairly. Those who tolerate her either let the himedere walk all over them or retaliate eventually, but there is usually a sense of loyalty or a strong bond that is difficult to break.
This type of character is one who has traits of a stereotypical, snooty princess, and comes off at first as arrogant, self-centered, and vain. Still, they have the capacity for love and friendship and often will soften over time, learning a valuable lesson in the process.
Himedere characters are very similar to tsundere characters and have a similar personality. They will both be arrogant and insult their love interest, acting like they're not interested when they actually care about them. The difference between the two is how himedere characters have a princess and superior complex, acting sometimes like a diva and very demanding to other people.
Himedere character's behavior is like a spoiled brat but with a princess complex. The kinder and more mature version of this dere are oujodere characters, who act like a gentle, kind and fair princess and don't demand others to treat them differently if they really are royalty.
Mean Popular Boy
The term mean popular boy is a stock character portraying male characters as cool, stronger, and often bullying anyone, even the main character, for no good reason, similar to mean popular girls. However, not all boys look like this, and there's an opposite version on the different page of him who is smart, kindhearted, and extremely likable.
The term was originally used to describe characters who began with a seemingly harsh personality, but slowly revealed a softer and vulnerable interior over time, which made this a plot trope as much as it is a character trope. Over the years, this character archetype has become flanderized and is now generically associated with a character who is ruthless with little to no redeeming value of their characterization, and usually at a specific person rather than a having social issues and/or disorders.
This type of character is one who has traits of a stereotypical egotist/narcissist, and comes off at first as arrogant, self-centered and having many jerkish qualities to them. Still, they may have the capacity for love and friendship and some of these characters will soften over time as they learn a valuable lesson in the process (depending on how they're written), otherwise, they'd just continue to never change and remain as the obnoxious jerks they've always been.
Why These Clichés Are Intentionally Mean
- It’s basically a carbon copy of the Bully cliché, both female and male.
- They’re just there to go up to the main protagonist and bully them for the sake of their characters, serving no purpose other than to pad a scene out.
- For mean popular girls, they are more annoying and hateful than hilarious. And for mean popular boys, they are more obnoxious, punchable, and hateful than funny.
- They don't have or show any motive or reason to bully the male or female protagonist, making their vendetta against the main character unjustifiable and unnecessary.
- What makes their mean-spirited attitude towards the main character more unreasonable is that the main character didn't do anything mean to them. In fact, in some shows like the C-Students pilot and Pixel Pinkie, the main female characters were trying to be nice to them, so that makes the Alpha Bitch's hatred towards the protagonist more pathetic.
- They usually get absolutely no character development whatsoever.
- When these so-called "side antagonists" do serve a purpose, they just cause problems and conflict for the protagonist to get the plot going in the direction that the writer wants it to.
- Some of them are so chatty and talkative that you wish they could shut up.
- They are pretty much Karma Houdinis, meaning that they get no consequences for actions.
- They often stand out victorious from humiliating their victim-prone protagonist(s) (and to a lesser extent, background characters).
- Tsundere girls are more aggressive and violent than boys they can beat up really hard is more like bullying than lovable, though they usually try not to bully the protagonist, start to learn rational feelings, and develop love and/or kindness toward them.
- Sometimes, some of the Tsunderes can be downright gender abusers for no real reason such as Asuka brutally mistreating Shinji by kicking him on the table, spilling coffee on his face, therefore Shinji cries help and mentally choked her for that, making both archetypes very pointless to some people.
- Himedere girls are extremely spoiled and bratty royal princesses.
- In western media, if she's Asian, she's usually Chinese (examples include Tammy from Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures, Penelope from Atomic Betty, Heather from Total Drama, Brittney from Star, Trixie from The Fairly OddParents, and Gwen from Mighty B!). This isn't necessarily anti-Chinese propaganda, as many of these shows have Chinese heroes and/or neutral characters, but it's overdone and questionable why that seems to be the default "Asian female bully" nationality.
- Most mean girls and mean boys overuse blonde hair stereotypes such as Connie D'Amico from Family Guy, Chloé Bourgeois from Miraculous Ladybug, Dash Baxter from Danny Phantom, and more.
- Because of this, some of them are so loud-mouthed, insulting, brash, blunt, or downright insensitive, that the viewer would prolly get angry and want to hurt them for their ruthless actions (even when they get away with being offensive).
- Jealousy is also part of the horrible cliché (especially for any gender). For example, when people fall in love with each other (regardless of gender or sexuality), this causes the boy to get extremely toxic to him or her. And of course, their malice is more dangerous than just jealousy itself, especially anime girls themselves.
- Some mean popular girls and boys are loved by fans. They aren't (or at least less) mean-spirited such as Libby Chessler, Heather, Rose Wilson, Junko Enoshima, Azula, Kazooie, Juri Han, Andrea Davenport, Miu Iruma, Lord Dominator, Elise (Wims) Harris, and Marga M. Bartolome. And some mean popular boys are very well-written, redeemable, and/or likable (especially when some of them get satisfying comeuppances for their actions). For example, John F. Kennedy from Clone High, Duckman, Spike Bulldog from Tom and Jerry, Dan from Dan Vs., Squidward Tentacles from SpongeBob SquarePants, Wario and Waluigi from Super Mario, Chuck from Angry Birds and Eric Cartman from South Park.
- Some of them have a purpose or an actual reason for being the way they are, such as Kevin from Ed Edd n Eddy (his reason is that he was at the butt of Eddy’s scams for nearly a decade).
- Most of them do get comeuppance from the characters.
- Not all of them are mean-spirited to the point of doing physical abuse.
- Although it's a minority, some of them do undergo character development, such as Cordelia Chase, Draco Malfoy, Amity Blight, Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon, Regina George, Quinn Fabray, Santana Lopez, Kitty Wilde, Miu Kazashiro, The Dazzlings, Chanel Oberlin, Chanel #3, Chanel #5, Pacifica Northwest, Ronnie Anne Santiago, Wildernessa, Chloé Bourgeois, Penny Peterson, Hiyoko Saionji, Ami Kawashima, Katsuki Bakugo, Mako Sato, Sayuki, Shingo Shoji, Miki, Applejack, Diana Cavendish, etc.
- Some of them do have a reason to dislike the main protagonist.
- Tsundere is a Japanese term for a character development process that depicts a person who is initially cold (and sometimes even hostile) before gradually showing a warmer, friendlier side over time. Tsunderes actually do not like being arrogant and try to be kind in which they try to adapt to the world and understand better from time to time.
- Himederes demand to be treated like royalty by their loved ones. They can really be princesses or only think that they are in a higher position to others and, consequently, that they should be treated as such and admired by those they think are inferior to them.
- The comedy anime will never be great without both tropes.
- Other bullies and families are also the main reasons for their bullying behavior.
- They are pretty much hate-sinks.
How to make a well-written Tsundere and Himedere
- First of all, portraying female characters (especially anime female characters) such as Tsundere and Himedere is very hard and pointless! Means you can't just portray them as Tsundere and Himedere archetypes when some female characters are just annoying, naggy, and sexist. Because if they made females way too far, the fans would totally hate it and become of the Mean Popular Girl trope. The perfect example is Sakura Haruno, she is hated by Naruto fans due to her poor portrayal of being tsundere because she often hits Naruto throughout the many episodes for no reason.
- Keep their likability balanced and be careful of making female characters like Tsundere and Himedere because there is a chance that it will be very annoying and frustrating to some people if it's not done right. The worst part: They will never watch anime because of it.
- Give them some flaws and motivations like Taiga Aisaka, who get neglected by her parents. It depends on the portrayal of being a tsundere and himedere to make them reasonable.
NOTE: Do not add examples of characters here that are just mean. Make sure that they fit the description of the trope in some way and add at least a brief explanation of their character.
Mean Popular Girls
- Mindy (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy) - she's a blatant incarnation of this stereotype who also serves as Mandy's arch-nemesis
- Nina Harper (Braceface) - constantly bullies Sharon and acts very bratty
- Muffy Crosswire (Arthur) - she is very spoiled and often acts horrible to her friends
- The dance group Cuties (Cuties) - the group constantly acts sexually and like sociopath toward the others, especially Angelica
- Heather (Total Drama) - despite being well-written, she can usually act cruel and mean-spirited at all times, such as the time where she ruined Gwen and Trent’s relationship just to get Trent eliminated in that one episode
- The Cheetah (PAW Patrol)
- Vana Glama (Sidekick) - she constantly acts "pretty" and "popular" to the others, and for literally no reason hates Eric to the guts
- Trina Riffin (Grojband) - she's shown to be cruel, sadistic and unlikable as she always is in the whole series. She's absolutely at her own worst in "Hear Us Rock Part 2" stating that she wins in the end, but later gets her comeuppance when Mina Beff stands up to her as a revenge
- The Golden Girls (American Dad!) - They pick on all the kids at school and treat Steve horribly. They also manipulate Francine into pouring sludge onto Steve during his fashion show. They do however get a comeuppance when Francine exposes all three of them with private information, thus ruining their reputations.
- Andrea Davenport (The Ghost and Molly McGee; pre-character development)
- Connie D'Amico (Family Guy) - a mean-spirited bully who picks on Meg for being unpopular and torments her family.
- Bonnie Rockwaller (Kim Possible) - a stereotypical cheerleader who frequently shames Kim.
- Nebra Silva (Black Clover) - she takes pleasure of judging and laughing at others (especially her only sister Noelle since childhood) who suffer in humiliation and defeat.
- Daki (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba) - as a beautiful yet infamous demon under many oiran disguises worn throughout the years, she cruelly bullies her clients to the point of committing Ashinuke (or breaking one's ties) and suicide.
- Kokomi Teruhashi (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.) - beneath the mask of her "nice and popular pretty girl" image, she is truly a conceited attention whore who manipulates people who easily adore her natural beauty to have Kusuo Saiki for herself; however, this is rather a good and well-written example of this trope
- Sharpay Evans (High School Musical series; pre-character development) - She forced Ms. Darbus to push the callbacks to the same day as Troy's basketball game and Gabriella's scholastic decathlon, so they cannot perform on stage. During summer vacation at Lava Springs, she manipulated Mr. Fulton into banning her employed classmates from entering the talent show, so she can earn the Star Dazzle Award and steal Troy away from Gabriella
- Ren Yamai (Komi Can't Communicate) - She resented Hitohito Tadano just for befriending Shouko Komi, the most beautiful girl that she dangerously falls in love with. She also resented Omoharu Nakanaka for the same reason, along with the latter's personality that Yamai finds it "unladylike" while she is the one to talk.
- Mai Zenin (Jujutsu Kaisen; pre-character development) - The talentless daughter from the popular Zenin clan and student of Kyoto Jujutsu High who belittled her stronger twin sister Maki and the rest of the latter's teammates (especially Nobara) from the Tokyo side.
- Winnie Coyle (Rumble) - She is a reckless and bossy girl who causes the plot of the movie by interfering with a wrestling match and helping a monster cheat at wrestling. When this backfired on her and all of Stoker, she refuses to take responsibility for it and blames that monster alone for everything. Even worse is that she interferes with another wrestling match with her close friend, Steve and compromises him, allowing her to force him to let her coach him and boss him around. She is shown mostly caring about herself and does not take into account what Steve or her mother actually wants yet the film tries to force viewers to sympathize with her because her father died years ago. Nobody even calls her out for her actions and behavior throughout the film either, allowing her to get away with what she has done.
- Norma Natividad (Psychonauts 2) - She treats Razputin awfully, ranging from stealing his clothes and locking him in a closet to manipulating him to mess with Hollis' mental connections and ends up hurting Hollis and never apologizing for it. Norma hardly ever apologizes for her actions and throws Razputin under the bus. Even after the Maligula incident, she learns nothing from her actions and even tries to take all the credit
- Suzi (Camp Lakebottom) - A stereotypical spoiled fashionista who complains about not getting a crown and is a bad sister to McGee.
- Stella (Helluva Boss) - She is the spoiled and bratty ex-wife of Stolas. In the season 2 premiere she was revealed to be an animal hater in childhood but then she is shown to rudely gossip about her husband behind his back during parties. She also repeatedly throws temper tantrums after finding out that Stolas, who is actually gay, cheated on her with an imp named Blitzo.
- Naoka Ueno (A Silent Voice) - She treats both Shōya and Shōko badly by mocking them and giving punishments to them when it wasn't really necessary, as well as Tomihiro when he asks her if she had feelings for him, making her unreasonably mad at him for a mistake that was really her own fault. She even treated her "friend" Miyoko much worse as she bullied her back at elementary school and even after they actually became friends, she still mocked her for standing up for Shōko in the infamous hospital scene in the manga.
- Miki Kawai (A Silent Voice) - Plays the victim in the bullying back at the elementary school and acts more of a bully when denying it, especially when she exposed Shōya's bullying to both their classmates in their current grades and even their friend circle.
- Aika S. Granzchesta (Aria/Aqua) - Treats Akari Mizunashi like trash several times by slapping her, snitching on her, stalking her and abusing President Aria to the point where she is nearly unsympathetic in general. She was also flanderized in the picture dramas, where she was portrayed as a much bigger Unwilling Weed Reaper for taking advantage and treating both Akari and Alice like Butt-Monkey slaves.
- Penelope Lang (Atomic Betty)
- Sincerity Travers (What About Mimi)
Mean Popular Boys
- Skeebo (Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures) - he always acts as a bully to Pac-Man and his friends
- Duncan (Total Drama) - he is notable for being the "badass punk" stereotype, but like other characters, he is pretty well written
- Bufo (Wolfoo) - even though the show claims he learns his lesson at the end of the episode, he always acts as an asshole to the rest of the cast, especially Wolfoo
- Miki (Initial D) - he tries to kidnap Natsuki during Third Stage, but he gets what he deserves thankfully
- Chandler (The Loud House) - he is popular for his parties and uses Lincoln to get what he wants, and he becomes even more cruel every since he became classmates with Lincoln in 6th grade.
- Doofus Drake (DuckTales 2017) - According to Louie, he only mingles with wealthy people, which means he doesn't interact with regular people. He also tries to make Louie's life a living hell for him and also ejected anyone at his birthday party for lying to him.
- Drake (The Pebble and the Penguin) - every female penguin in the Rookery (save for Marina) admires him, not to mention he outright tried to get rid of Hubie to the point of tossing him into the sea, just so he can have Marina for himself.
- Tyler Nguyen-Baker (Turning Red; pre-character development) - he bullies and laughs at Mei Lee for having an overprotective mother who often visits their school if there is an emergency and thinks that she is “weird” and “crazy”.
- Solid Silva (Black Clover) - he tends to cruelly belittle others for their status and power, as well as picking on his little sister Noelle since childhood (i.e. destroying her toys and throwing away her food) and just smirks just like Nebra whenever he encounters and taunts others.
- Mike Wegman (The Simpsons) He criticises anyone who disrespects Homer. Even Homer himself.
- Metori Saiko (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.; pre-character development) In season 1, he's the rich transfer student who made his classmates suffer terrible consequences (i.e. forcing Kusuo Saiki and his family transfer to Siberia) for not letting him to have Kokomi Teruhashi for himself. In season 2, he took away all of the costumes, sets, and props that he bought with his money after figuring out Kaido's real plan for "The Other Taro Urashima" play shortly before the day of the cultural festival
- Makoto Teruhashi (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.) - A popular TV show actor who tends to be rude with others (including Saiki albeit the latter has no purpose to do so) that he thought try to get closer with sister Kokomi, in whom he has a perverting sister-complex with
- Shouta Itou (Jujutsu Kaisen) - a mean popular boy who is responsible for tormenting Junpei Yoshino to the point the latter received a scar on his forehead that is currently covered by his hair. He also became an impact of Junpei's decisions to stop attending school and encounter Mahito, who used the big bully's victim to become a Curse user against everyone, including the former, at his school for revenge, as well as not showing remorse about Junpei when he died and doesn’t show any surprise of his punishment from his principal.
- Marcus (Big Nate) - Your stereotypical popular jerk that bullies people younger than him, mainly Nate and his friends. He also tries to steal the girl Chad likes and has a group of dumbasses protecting him, similar to Randy Betancourt. Karma did strike him eventually, but that was the only time it happened and he’s rarely appeared since.
- Chad the Cheerleader (The LEGO Ninjago Movie; pre-character development) - bullied Lloyd Garmadon just for having a four-armed father (who also has his son’s last name) that wants to rule and conquer Ninjago City while he didn't actually do anything wrong for others.
- Jordan Buttsquat (Camp Lakebottom) - Always taunts McGee and his friends just to take over the camp they were staying.
- Lance Richmond (Nexo Knights) - A knight and a celebrity who cares about his looks, public image, money and entertainment way more than his duties as a knight, and butts heads with his friends, usually Clay, over petty reasons. He mistreated his butler Dennis and showed no concern over his parents being taken prisoners.
- Louie Farley (George Brown, Class Clown) - Treats George Brown like garbage for having a big burp, making him an ableist, as well as acting incredibly whiny for throwing temper tantrums that are way worse than Caillou and D.W.'s first 15 seasons combined. He is also notable for suing others for the dumbest reasons like losing a contest.