|Is It College Yet?
|63 (one non-speaking)
2 TV movies
|Helen Morgendorffer (wife)
Daria Morgendorffer (daughter)
Quinn Morgendorffer (daughter)
Ruth Morgendorffer (mother)
"Mad Dog" Morgendorffer (father, deceased)
Amy Barksdale (sister in law)
Rita Barksdale (sister in law)
Erin Chambers (niece)
Grandma Barksdale (mother in law, name unknown)
Jake Morgendorffer is a fictional animated character who featured regularly in the MTV television show, Daria. Father of Daria Morgendorffer, he is a middle-aged man, brown-haired, and trim, who almost always wears an ocean-blue business suit. His wedding vows in "The Daria Diaries" say he's a Capricorn.
|"Get back on the bike Jake. Big boys don't cry. Crying is for girls, Jakey." Shake, shake, quiver and quake! It's all coming back to me now!
Jake Morgendorffer was the son of an emotionally abusive father, nicknamed "Mad Dog" Morgendorffer, who (as Jake remembers it) tormented his son mercilessly and ultimately shipped him off to military school the first chance he got (the very day after Jake stopped on his contact lens, according to "The Daria Hunter"). His father berated him for showing weakness ("Monster") and took him on camping trips to berate him about doing it wrong, then got drunk at night. Having "Mad Dog" for a father caused him to still wet the bed at age 15. ("The Teachings of Don Jake"). Despite all this, Jake's father went to the trouble of recording a lot of the boy's early life in home movies. ("Monster")
Little is known about Jake's siblings, though it is possible he had an older sister; Jake mentions having weirdo neighbours in "The Daria Hunter".
At some point before Buxton Ridge, Jake was in the Boy Scouts with Paul Meyerson.
Jake's time in military school further traumatized him, as his parents refused to visit him and all but forgot about him until graduation ("Of Human Bonding"). Corporal Ellenbogen and the Commandant of Cadets seemed to target him specifically, and he was regularly bullied by many of the other cadets (including being hung from the flagpole by his underpants for a time and being made to eat his dress socks by "the big guys").
His letters home from military school show him becoming increasingly broken and bitter, first asking to be told what he did wrong so he won't do it again and descending into vicious screeds against his father. He forgives his mother though, viewing her as having no choice but to go along with "Mad Dog's" ideas. Jake did have one friend: Randy, sent to the Ridge for putting his fist through a wall, and who went AWOL after four years. Jake wanted to go with him but didn't to deny his father "the satisfaction" of him flunking out. ("The Daria Diaries")
He did try to get involved in the school musical review and the football team, but in both cases he was rubbish and mocked for it. ("The Story of D", "The Lab Brat") He was in the Color Guard during this time, and put on a Leadership Platoon Reaction Course. He wasn't very good at that either. Apart from all that, he wasn't very good at being a cadet: he failed at many basic tasks, and in four years he racked up 98 demerits "but they still won't kick me out". ("The Daria Diaries")
At either Buxton or at school before then, he asked a girl out to a school dance and she rejected him for "Mr Campus Hot Stuff". In attempt to "show her", he went on his own; the very concept of school dances sets him off. ("Daria Dance Party")
Afterwards, Jake enrolled at Middleton College thanks to funding from his family, thus not being shipped off to the Vietnam War ("The Daria Diaries") - though he once claimed to a veteran that he wasn't drafted because the "war was winding down" ("My Night at Daria's"). Around the time of the funding, Jake had been threatening to 'drop out' and be a hippie as soon as his father couldn't legally stop him; this is probably why Mad Dog sent him to college, mistakenly thinking that'd stop him (Jake promised to "really... hit the books" there). ("Diaries") Based on dates given in the episodes and books, if Middleton has the traditional four years for US colleges then Jake started college in 1968.
At Middleton, he joined the hippie counter-culture and met his future wife Helen there. The counter-culture was a calming influence to the seething cauldron of repressed rage and hatred for the world around him and for his father, and he became an extremely cheery optimist with a firm belief in the counter-culture's ideals and rejecting the modern world. He and Helen were arrested in summer 1969 as a student and once protested outside the Pentagon, where he got enraged and kicked the building. ("That Was Then, This Is Dumb") He attended Altamont Free Concert and somehow got his money back ("Road Worrier"). Hippie friends included Willow and Coyote
The couple graduated in 1972 ("The Daria Database") and moved into a commune together with their friends. On July 26, 1975, they got married. ("Diaries" and "The Daria Database") His father didn't bother to turn up for the wedding ("Of Human Bonding") and died shortly thereafter.
Like many hippies, Jake and Helen moved on from the 1960s counter-culture by the end of the 1970s and began working in the corporate world. Jake in particular began work in the advertisement industry, with little success. Adding to his strife was the fact that Jake worked for a rather controlling boss who treated Jake poorly (whom he referred to as a "mini-Mussolini" in the episode "Boxing Daria") and further verbally abused Jake on a regular basis.
Jake and Helen ultimately had two daughters, Daria (whom he often refers to as "kiddo") and Quinn. By this point the family was living in Highland, Texas, (home of Beavis and Butt-head). The family stayed there for several years before moving to the suburb of Lawndale. Although it is unknown whether Helen or Jake instigated the move, it has been implied that the change spurred Jake to start his own freelance advertising consultant firm. Jake could now enjoy the freedom of being his own boss, far from the stress-filled environment in which he used to work.
He always wanted to work on his cooking, and ever since a brief turndown in work in "Arts 'N Crass" he's been trying culinary experiments every week or so, much to the horror of every stomach around him.
In several episodes, Jake has expressed frustration that he become a corporate man and that he gave up on his ideals, and views himself as trapped in his current life ("a boring little house in a bland little town") and resenting middle-age; he generally keeps this hidden, with it only coming out due to "glitterberries" or visits from old hippie friends. However, in "Quinn the Brain", when trying to give advice he started to randomly yell "It's not too late to start over, Daria, it's not too late! You're still a young man! You don't have to live with your mistakes! Get out while you can!" before suddenly recovering.
Relationship with Helen
|...never imagining that someday you would find yourself shouldering the bulk of the difficult parenting decisions while your spouse remains blissfully disconnected from reality, lost in a dream world of his own making.
—Helen on Jake, "Broodbeat",
They celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary around the time of season 2.
Jake and Helen are and always have been much in love, but there is a strong undercurrent of resentment between the two of them in their relationship. In the episode "Psycho Therapy," Helen describes Jake's behavior as "lost in a fog when [he's] not flying into a rage" to a counselor, and in "One J at a Time" she shows anger over his inability to get over his father. His general meekness often causes Helen to make a majority of the decisions. When Jake goes into a rage, Helen ranges from humoring him to pushing back. "Fire!" showed them in a loving, calm relationship once they were in a relaxed environment, though this ended once stress re-entered the scene.
Helen has also, in several episodes, become frustrated or sad about the lack of "spice" in the marriage. Several times they have gotten it back ("Road Worrier", "Antisocial Climbers", "Fire!", "Is It Fall Yet?", "Camp Fear"), and evidence shows that Jake is the lead in any activity and is good at making his wife... happy. However, "Antisocial Climbers" showed that when they actually tried to talk about their relationship and feelings after having sex, they were completely unable to do it and ended up in embarrassed silence.
The couple have been involved in many attempts to rekindle their marriage, from taking romantic retreats ("Antisocial Climbers") to using the Xanadu Professional Couples Counseling agency ("The Daria Database") to out-of-town workshops ("Speedtrapped"). In the first series, they were involved in the "Couples Therapy Night" group and knew the Gupty family through it. Jake loathed these nights and considered the other couples "wimps", but in one session he broke down and started crying. ("Pinch Sitter") They were still involved with the therapy nights three years later, according to Helen's website.
Jake has become irritated verging on raging when Helen has had to cancel planned getaways in favour of work ("Of Human Bonding", "Camp Fear"), in "Bonding" diverging from there into a general rant about being unable to depend on anyone. "Camp Fear" reveals that almost all planned romantic holidays (and holidays at all) were put on hold because of Helen's job, a source of resentment for Jake.
Once, Jake got angry that Helen wasn't supporting his career and managed to guilt her into going along with him on a networking mission ("Just Add Water"); she has since acted as 'supportive wife' during business meetings for his sake, but it clearly bores and irritates her ("My Night at Daria's"). He goes along to her firm functions to play 'supportive husband' but enjoys them even less than Helen enjoys his, as her colleagues shun him (and she once had to get some people to promise to talk to him)
Helen is often ticked with Jake for not doing his share of parenting: "Broodbeat" says she never expected him to disconnect this much, and "Lane Miserables" sees her pissed that he barely knows anything about his own daughters (or about her). Sometimes Jake has also been annoyed that he isn't allowed more control from her.
In "Psycho Therapy," Jake accuses Helen of having control issues, allowing him no vices. Both are then asked to role-play as the other, leading Jake to portray Helen as a narcissistic career woman with an addiction to praise who does everything without empathy, while Helen portrays Jake as a self-pitying manic-depressive who doesn't try to fix his own problems and is adverse to responsibility. Jake's assessment of Helen really hits home for her and upsets her greatly, leading him to apologize afterward. It is unknown whether the role-play resulted in any lasting emotional scars.
There has never been any suggestion that Jake is cheating on Helen or would do, though he apparently phoned a sex chat line once ("Quinn the Brain"). When hit on by DeeDee in "Just Add Water", Jake was immediately nervous and ran away to inform Helen at the first bit of physical contact; when they got into an argument later, he blamed her for leaving him with DeeDee.
In "Sappy Anniversary", prolonged absences due to work causes Helen and Jake to spend less time together, and both of them miss the other.
Later on in "Sappy", Jake becomes worried Helen is bothered about being married to a loser - she reassures him she isn't bothered (quickly saying she doesn't think he's a loser), and reveals that she's still kept the badly-made, ugly hobbit candle he made for her back during their first anniversary, as it was something he created especially for her: it's a reminder of why she married him, that he's a "kind, decent, intelligent man I fell in love with all those years ago". (He didn't recognise the candle and reacted with horror at the misshapen thing)
"Daria and Quinn's parents are living it up as retirees. Every time Daria speaks to them, they're venturing out on yet another cruise, but whenever they're back in Lawndale, they're breaking a sweat in their weekly dance class."
He is often clueless to the point of barely hearing conversations (though this is often deliberate on his part so he can avoid conflicts or needing to make decisions) and not even knowing one of his daughters' ages.
As a victim of long-term emotional abuse, Jake suffers from neurotic behavior that at times borders on mental illness. His general reaction to everyday trauma is to avoid conflict, usually by ducking behind a newspaper that he pretends to read or by avoiding the house for days if Helen's sisters are visiting. However, in spite of this defense, Jake has been known to go off on angry fits of yelling and screaming at things, real and imaginary, that he feels are out to get him. In particular, Jake is prone to scream "Damn it!" during these tirades. Often, he will switch between these rages and happy cluelessness at random if he sees a distraction.
The drastic mood swings eventually affect his health, once giving him a mild heart attack that leaves him bedridden for a short time. However, during his convalescence, Daria points out, to his delight, that he has now lived longer than his hated father.
In spite of these fits, Jake has not shown typical signs of physically or emotionally abusing his wife or children, in contrast to many victims of childhood abuse. It could be argued that the attempts by his wife and daughters to protect and humor him reflect a milder form of emotional abuse, but not that any of that was intentional on Jake's part.
Jake and his children
|You know what dad, talking to you actually made me feel better about myself.
|That's what I'm here for, kiddo.
—Jake, Quinn the Brain
Jake is loving towards his daughters, though he's often vulnerable to being taken advantage of - especially financially. As a result, he will often let Helen take the lead and simply attempt to back her up, though this often goes wrong when he's not been paying attention. In "Quinn the Brain" he initially complained he wasn't ever allowed to be the lead parent, and then, when he proved unable to navigate his daughter's extortions, threw his wallet at them and yelled "damn it, Helen, I told you I was no good at this parent crap!".
When it comes to difficult situations in parenting, Jake tries to avoid them: Helen would even once say that she's "raising two teenagers all by [her]self", before remembering "with Jake". ("The Daria Hunter") He manages to blot out most of Quinn & Daria's conflicts or problems the girls are showing, mainly for his own health. "My Night at Daria's" showed that he was incapable of handling the very concept of his daughters having sex, freaking out and running off at the very sight of Daria during that episode. "Lane Miserables" and "The Daria Database" established he can't even remember basic facts about his daughters, like their approximate age or the name of their friends (even though there's only one to remember in Daria's case). He may wonder why Quinn never introduced him to any of her friends ("Daria Dance Party") but Helen has no such confusion...
Despite Jake's neurotic behavior, there have been periods where he has true insight into the lives of his children. During "Boxing Daria," he explains to Daria that while she was a difficult child to deal with due to her reclusive and jaded behavior, he and Helen understood and accepted that someone as bright as she was not going to be like everyone else. This, of course, flies in the face of their many attempts (primarily Helen's) to get Daria to be like everyone else. In the flashbacks in that episode, notably, he identifies the young Daria "doesn't want to fit in".
It's sometimes assumed that he's closer to Daria than Quinn (note he has a pet name for her but not Quinn), and from time to time has taken her side or shown he wants to. In "Of Human Bonding", he desperately wants to bond properly with Daria and reach out, and that he's worried she always looks so lonely, but proves incapable of pulling it off; earlier in the episode, however, he was scared of knowing about her. (When Jake raises the issue of bonding more with her, Daria ducks the issue by convincing him that the way they sit together reading newspapers & not talking shows their relationship has reached the point where they don't need to talk) In "Psycho Therapy", he states to the Quiet Ivy staff that "there's nothing wrong with Daria." In "Aunt Nauseum" and other episodes, it's Daria he turns to out of the girls if he needs help. The two have been shown sitting at the table together reading and not talking, which Daria seems happy with.
Three notable moments for Jake and his parenting were:
- "Daria!", where he drove out during a hurricane to find Daria and bring her home safely
- "Jake of Hearts", where he admitted to Daria that "I just want to make sure I never make you girls feel that way—less worthwhile or intelligent than your old man".
- "Arts 'N Crass", when he actually supports Daria and her artwork, showing that not only was he paying attention to Daria's situation, but understood how it affected her and her feelings about said situation. (Sadly for him, he was "meant" to be backing Helen's stance instead...)
Quinn, for her part, generally views her dad as a soft touch but was genuinely upset when he had his heart attack in "Jack of Hearts", abruptly deciding she was going to become a heart doctor; she stopped after he became well again but before then had been deliberately studying, a strange and shocking event. Daria, in "Of Human Bonding", thought: "he's afraid to be afraid. That's what's so heartbreaking. He's my father; shouldn't I let down the barricades for once and tell him I think he's a hero?" (She didn't.)
Internal production bios for Jake (see Trivia) reveal that he was originally meant to repeat his father's mistakes when he got under stress. This would be dropped soon into the show, while Mad Dog's mistakes would be shown to be greater than originally planned ("grounds the children, drinks").
|Did I mention I make pie charts?
Jake owns his own consultancy, Morgendorffer Consulting. Jake's status as a marketing consultant changes from episode to episode. Sometimes it seems to be doing just fine, sometimes he's losing clients and is in danger of losing his parking space. As a sole proprietor business with only one consultant, yo-yo fortunes are not unsurprising.
Glenn Eichler has stated that MTV had "highly paid idiot "consultants" roam the halls dispensing wisdom like "Kids today communicate through text messaging! That's a cell phone thing they do!" So I figured if they could make a living stating the obvious, so could Jake." He also stated that Jake isn't a very good businessman but manages to get a few lucrative jobs now and then - his problem isn't that he's stupid, it's that he's not as good at office politics as Helen.
The series does show that Jake has some pull around Lawndale, though. He uses his contacts to get Daria a job in It Happened One Nut, and when Jodie and Daria apply for a bank loan during a class assignment in Partner's Complaint, the loan officer cites that if Daria's father cosigns on the loan the bank may react more favorably.
His personal website mentions "I have over 20 years of experience in consumer motivation, market research implementation protocol, and direct mail couponpack composition". it also mentions the office's coffee machine, photocopier, and computer are junk.
In "Sappy Anniversary", Jake manages to temporarily work for Buzzdome despite not knowing anything about modern computers and the Internet: he just manages to bull his way through the initial interview with random buzzwords and then gets through by his enthusiastic, friendly personality. (When they fire him, they then take him on as a consultant to show them how confused, middle-aged people will best understand their services)
In the same episode, Jake expresses pride and defiance over being self-employed; going off "Boxing Daria", when he was employed by others he hated the job and worked for at least one "mini-Mussolini".
As well as a website for his company, Jake has a personal homepage, Dad's Dynamic Domain.
H"ello! I'm Jake Morgendorffer. When I'm not busy consulting with leading multinational corporations and local business visionaries, I like to relax at home with my wife, Helen, and two teenage daughters, Daria and Quinn. There's nothing like a quiet evening spent watching TV or reading the paper while they do whatever it is they do. Besides parenting (on those rare occasions when my wife lets me, ha ha, kidding, dear), I also like to cook, do the Jumble, and wonder if life is going by faster than it used to."
"Click here for my pasta cooking tips: the result of years of experimentation. (Not that I have time to putter around the kitchen these days, being so in demand for my consulting services! Hey, is that the phone again? Gotta run!)
"Call me at my office number: 555-6676. I'll probably just be sitting around tossing balls of paper into the wastepaper bas- I mean, I'll squeeze you in somehow!"
He's using it to try and get in touch with other Buxton Ridge alumni from 1950 to 1960: "I am trying to locate alumni. This is not for a reunion; I just want to find out if it screwed you up as much as it did me. We can swap memories of heartless parents who shipped off their own flesh and blood to be "cared" for by cruel strangers holding guns." You can also download Jake's Pasta Tips.
He also has a page on Broodbeat.
His consulting company also has a website:
"Hello! My name is Jake Morgendorffer. I have over 20 years of experience in consumer motivation, market research implementation protocol, and direct mail couponpack composition. Need marketing advice? My one-man operation keeps your costs low. You won't be wasting money on fancy penthouse offices, extensive support staff, or extravagant expense account meals. Or a decent coffee maker. Or a computer that can go for three minutes without crashing. I even use both sides of the paper when photocopying. When the damn "factory refurbished" copier works. "Like new" - yeah, right.
"If you hire me you will get personalized service - the kind you won't find at some huge downtown firm with a boardroom table bigger than my so-called office "suite." Do you think there's someone over there who has the time to listen to you go on and on for hours trying to decide whether your logo has enough "oomph?" Who will sit quietly while you burst his eardrum screaming about a typo that caused fifty percent of your sweepstakes mailing list to win Grand Prize? (And by the way, it was the printer's fault.) No, damn it! They would never put up with that. But I will be happy to do so. "Be your own boss" - yeah, right.
"Let me share my knowhow. Drop me a line. Anytime. Please."
JAKE MORGENDORFFER CYBER-CONSULTING
A division of Jake Morgendorffer Consulting, Inc. Halcyon Hills Corporate Park, Building G (the L-shaped one)
It would be difficult to make Jake any more oblivious than he is portrayed in the series. Let's face it, a man who yells "What's the number for nine-one-one?" ("Write Where It Hurts") is more than a few fries short of a Happy Meal. This stereotype works well in farcical comedies (see Squirrel Story) and as light relief, but making him a more serious character is challenging. One notable exception is the "Finn Morgendorffer" series by HolyGrail2007, where he's the beloved father figure of the title character.
There are a number of stories which postulate that the emotional trauma Jake suffered through as a child would have serious future ramifications in his future. "Darth Jake" stories almost always characterize Jake as horrifying, vicious, cruel, and acting out a pathological desire to show that he's a better father than "Mad Dog" Morgendorffer. Examples of this type include The Angst Guy's "Darius," and Scissors MacGillicutty's "Where's Mary Sue When You Need Her?." These are usually alternate universe fanfics.
A fic that subverts this variation is "Chosin Fate," where Daria finds audio tapes of her grandfather before and after the wartime events that transformed him into the "Mad Dog." In the fic, listening to those tapes has a cathartic effect on Jake; he muses on how that was the first time he had ever heard his father say that he loved his son, and considers how his father was a damaged soul who wasn't trying to abuse him, but to toughen him up for the dangers of the world. We also see this in "It's All About Respect," where Jake and Lauriel de la Ribas speak about "Mad Dog's" service time, and how it affected Jake's father and the people around him.
A combination of the first two: this flags up Jake's blatant failures as a father, husband, and individual, treating them straight and without allowing humour or good intentions to mitigate them. Examples include the background of "Assistant Living", where Marianne (who only sees Jake briefly) considers him a selfish man-child who makes Helen's life worse; the thrust of Jake and Helen's story arc in the Driven Wild Universe by Kara Wild; and The Angst Guy's "JÖRMUNGANDR", where a competitor is easily stealing Jake's clients as everyone found him off-puttingly weird, and Jake responds with a harassment campaign.
A few fanfics focus strongly on Jake's good qualities. Daria regards him as a "hero" in "Of Human Bonding," a reference that puzzled many viewers, but he is known to take up Daria's side in some parental disputes (notably in "Arts 'N Crass" and "Boxing Daria"). Angelinhel's "Alley" is a touching and realistic ficlet about Jake's softer side, Jon Kilner's "Don't Know Jake" seems him troubled by the need to work for a morally corrupt client to support the family, and Mike Xeno's "Committed" has Jake struggling against all odds to do something romantic for Helen on their 25th anniversary.
A combination of the last two tropes, this presents Jake as a good man at heart who, due to his emotional damage, is struggling to be a good husband and father - and sometimes is cost dearly. "The Cell" by thatLONERchick has him losing Helen to Eric Schrecter, and "Outside the Box" by Mike Xeno shows the impact the flashbacks from "Boxing Daria" had on him.
Now and then, a fanfic will present Jake as overcoming his broken past and stalled present to be a better husband and father. In Kara Wild's Driven Wild Universe, Jake's friendship with Anthony DeMartino spurs him to teach classes at a nearby community center ("All But Forgotten"). However, his newfound independence proves to be one of the many causes of a widening rift between him and Helen, eventually leading to their separation ("Memory Road"). The separation forces Jake, for the first time, to really work at getting to know his daughters and to take care of himself. "Mad Dog's Legacy" by Hyrin has Jake holding the family together and working to help Daria following her childhood trauma, sometimes - in contrast to canon - proving to be the better parent than Helen. "Jacob Morgendorffer, Esq" by Cap shows an alternate life for a Jake after he went into military law, becoming an influential and respected figure.
And then there are a few ficlets that presume Jake's cluelessness is a cover, and he is secretly a mightier force for good than anyone supposes. Shallow15's "Super Zero" is an excellent example. TAG's "Nuthouse" is a comic take on this concept.
The Late, Great Jake
"Jake of Hearts" showed Jake having a heart attack in his mid-40s. As a result of that and his obvious stress, many alternate universe and post-canon fanfics have Jake dying of a heart attack, usually 'before his time'. This can be the focus of the story ("Dark of Hearts" by TAG) or simply a background detail.
- According to Glenn Eichler in an interview, Jake has an older sister.
- Jake is one of Anne D. Bernstein's favourite characters because of his churning mass of strong, random emotions.
- In the internal production bio for Jake, shown on the DVD, we saw that Jake was intended to "consider himself pretty liberal, but that's mostly just a sentimental, nostalgic view of his old self" and that he was now apolitical "unless something threatens his money, or a neighbour is running for the school board". He said he "tries to be" sensitive and understanding to avoid making his father's mistakes, but "when he gets pushed, he goes ahead and makes them anyway: grounds the children, drinks". Much of this wouldn't make it into the show itself, and Jake repeating his father's mistakes was an idea that would be dropped early on (in "The Big House", he grounds the girls because he's following Helen's lead and isn't sure why they're doing it).
- In the Latin American dubbing, he was voiced by Jorge Roig.
- Outpost Daria - Character: Jake (via Wayback Machine)
- April 2005 interview with Glenn Eichler on DVDaria, in which Jake's lack of business acumen is discussed.