Characters that are funny because they are an Übermensch?
January 14, 2015 7:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples of characters from any medium (TV, movies, literature, etc) who are funny because they are unrealistically awesome or capable of inhuman feats. Details below the fold.

The best example that I can think of right now is Barney Stinson. He's not always an Übermensch and has a human side, but he does do things like running a marathon without training and is unimaginably successful in getting women to sleep with him. That's the sort of inhuman feat I'm looking for - the character believes with absolute confidence that they can do something that no real human could do, then they actually do it. (The fact that Barney got stuck on the subway after the marathon does not ruin the fact that he actually ran the marathon, and the fact that he sometimes strikes out with women doesn't ruin his inhuman and unscrupulous ability to get laid). Bonus points if other characters realistically doubt their ability to deliver, but that's not completely necessary.

There's no particular reason for this request other than curiosity. I just started watching Parks and Rec and expected Ron Swanson to be a similar Übermensch. While Ron does some pretty awesome, unusual things, he's far more human than I expected based on the quotes I saw before the show. I still like his character, but I guess I expected something like "I won an award for eating an entire cow (cooked rare, of course) in one sitting" and when Leslie doubts him, he provides a video of him calmly doing it in under an hour.
posted by Tehhund to Media & Arts (53 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sterling Archer, Archer

Kenny Powers, East Bound and Down, sort of

Brock Sampson, Shore Leave and Hunter Gathers, The Venture Brothers
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:11 AM on January 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Baron Munchausen!
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:12 AM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sort of related: the movie Young Frankenstein seems to occur in universe where everyone can play the violin.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:20 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Archer! How could I forget?

I won't turn this into a chat session, I just wanted to mention that Sterling is a perfect example. Brock too.
posted by Tehhund at 7:21 AM on January 14, 2015


The Tick! Maybe any character associated with Patrick Warburton.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:27 AM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm fits the bill.
posted by Mchelly at 7:29 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Perhaps Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
posted by bq at 7:30 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Johnny Bravo!
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:31 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Tick who's whole thing is that he's like Superman but not. My brother subscribed so I have no idea where to start in this day and age.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:31 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


George Constanza, when told that Kramer was attending a fantasy camp: "His whole life is a fantasy camp. People should plunk down two-thousand dollars to live like him for a week. Do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbors, and have sex without dating. *That's* a fantasy camp!"
posted by Gelatin at 7:37 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


House to a certain extent. He knows a shit-ton of languages and a huge memory. The humor in the character comes from the fact that he's an asshole, an asshole that knows everything.

By that measure, Sherlock Holmes is also that dude, just not usually as funny, although Sherlock in the current incarnation is.

The old Adam West Batman. What doesn't he have on that utility belt? Clearly money is the ultimate superpower.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:37 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also Mary Poppins.
posted by Mchelly at 7:38 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Snoopy from Charlie Brown.

(It's taking all my willpower not to say Hannibal.)
posted by tel3path at 7:39 AM on January 14, 2015


Parker Lewis, from Parker Lewis Can't Lose

Ferris Bueller.
posted by bondcliff at 7:40 AM on January 14, 2015


Ace Rimmer from Red Dwarf.
posted by X-Himy at 7:43 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Rose McGowan is sort of the trophy-wife version of this in Bridesmaids. She's presented as being this absolutely perfect, stunningly-beautiful woman who speaks Thai, hosts a flawlessly tasteful and lovely party, knows all the right people, and can get away with wearing a ball gown to an engagement party because she's just that perfect. Her perfection drives the main character slowly insane over the course of the film.
posted by lunasol at 7:50 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


TV Tropes has a page on the Übermensch. Be warned, TV Tropes will steal your whole afternoon.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:50 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Definitely Cosmo Kramer.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:52 AM on January 14, 2015


Many of the protagonists in Patricia Cornwell's 'Scarpetta' thrillers are unrealistically accomplished.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:59 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you happen to read the Girl Genius comics, Othar Trygvassen is a perfect example. He's the hero archetype in a world of antiheroes, and he's played for comic relief.
posted by aimedwander at 8:01 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Rose McGowan is sort of the trophy-wife version of this in Bridesmaids.

Rose Byrne, actually. :)
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:02 AM on January 14, 2015


Perfect Tommy in "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension." "Why me?" "Because you're perfect."
posted by fedward at 8:03 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hawkeye Pierce was said to be quite the ladies man, even if what you usually saw on (TV) screen was him striking out. And he always saved his patients, which medical superprowess in turn saved his butt from court-martial or transfer to another unit.
posted by Liesl at 8:11 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lord Flashheart?
posted by HandfulOfDust at 8:12 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Definitely both incarnations of Lord Flashheart.
posted by MsMolly at 8:14 AM on January 14, 2015


If we're going for unlikeable people such as House or George Costanza, then also Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.
posted by Melismata at 8:19 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Middleman
posted by sevenless at 8:19 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Homer Simpson. Seriously. The writers even cast a spotlight on this in the episode Homer's Enemy.
posted by penguinicity at 8:22 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fraser from Due South.

Captain Holt from Brooklyn 99.

I'd actually argue for Leslie Knope being the ubermensch on Parks & Rec. She achieves some pretty unbelievable stuff. (Although to be fair, so does Ron over the years!)
posted by pie ninja at 8:28 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Captain Awesome from Chuck pulls this off most of the time. "Everything he does is awesome; climbing mountains, jumping out of planes, flossing..."
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:33 AM on January 14, 2015


Onepunch-Man, a superhero who trained to win all his battles with only one punch. Except now his life is super boring as there are no more challenges, so he endlessly searches for opponents worthy of maybe two punches. And also searches for special discounts at the grocery store.
posted by 35minutes at 8:35 AM on January 14, 2015


Pippi Longstocking
posted by randomination at 9:09 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hank Scorpio on The Simpsons
posted by psoas at 9:30 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chris Traeger from Parks & Rec
"Scientists believe that the first human being who will live 150 years has already been born. I believe I am that human being."
posted by changeling at 9:31 AM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sledge Hammer
posted by doctor tough love at 9:49 AM on January 14, 2015


Granny and Ellie May from The Beverly Hillbillies. Super strength, exceptional fighting ability, and Granny was a witch.
posted by Billiken at 10:10 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


almost every wrestler in the WWE.
posted by mullacc at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2015


Carrot Ironfoundersson from the Discworld books fits this description.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:44 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Monk. Poirot. Miss Marple. Etc.
posted by Poldo at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2015


A bunch of the recurring characters in Oglaf are like this. Mistertique is stupidly overconfident and ludicrously successful with women. The Xoan Ambassador is a machiavellian genius who never seems to fall out of favor despite being utterly corrupt, depraved and perverted. A lot of the other characters are parodies of high-level D&D/pulp fantasy adventurer types, so it's part of their backstory that they're unbelievably successful mercenaries or thieves or whatever, and sometimes the fact that they're stupidly good at everything is played for humor.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


THE MIDDLEMAN! Seconding. He displays a great deal of strength, combat abilities, tactical thinking, general knowledge etc. throughout the series, but it's his good old-fashioned all-American moral purity that puts him a cut above human.
posted by Freyja at 12:32 PM on January 14, 2015


Oglaf, while brilliant, is NOT work safe. So, so, so NSFW!

Anime has a lot of Uber-characters, sometimes played straight, and sometimes not. I'll let you TV tropes that
posted by Jacen at 12:40 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fonzie?
posted by Herr Zebrurka at 12:42 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]




Elle Woods in Legally Blonde sort of has this for me.

-- You got into Harvard Law?
-- What? Like it's hard?

posted by Mchelly at 1:18 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Former President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox.
posted by MsMolly at 1:42 PM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


2nding Chris Treager from Parks and Rec.
posted by littlesq at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2015


Grace, on Will and Grace, could smell any foodstuff and immediately and accurately predict exactly--to the hour--when it will reach a state of spoilage. Always made me laugh.
posted by primate moon at 7:58 PM on January 14, 2015


Leslie Knope!
posted by pazazygeek at 9:15 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, came in to say the Fonz (on Happy Days) - he could make the jukebox start playing just by banging it a certain way.
posted by jbickers at 5:18 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cornfed the pig sidekick was the real hero of Duckman: "Affable, studious, as well as morally and sexually scrupulous, Cornfed is an amazingly talented pig and has specialist knowledge from practically every walk of life."
posted by KatlaDragon at 8:27 AM on January 17, 2015


Superduperman.
Bizarro World Superman.
Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
The Prince from Into the Woods (either, really).
posted by IAmBroom at 2:36 PM on January 17, 2015


Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock, who, when finally convinced that meditation offers him a path away from his problems, lies down on his couch, closes his eyes, orders himself to "meditate perfectly!" and is immediately whisked away into a transcendent Nirvana.
posted by bac at 9:59 PM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


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