Due to a childhood of neglect and forced self-sufficiency, Jake is often stressed out, leading him to get bloodshot eyes and even a mild heart attack. (Jake of Hearts)
Despite good-hearted attempts to make his family happy, and his genuine love for them, Jake seems very short-tempered, and very rarely takes the blame for things. He tries to remain a cheerful and friendly mood, but apparently he is also shrill, irritable, and overreactive.
He is inept at controlling or bribing his daughters but does love his family and gives support in his own way. He is constantly haunted by his father and days at boot camp and is prone to angry bursts. Jake isn't as violent as he claims, shown when he caught, drove all the way to the woods, and freed a squirrel, after once complaining that it was illegal to shoot or drown them.
He works as a sales/marketing consultant.
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. 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.
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.
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.
"Lane Miserables", in an understated moment, indicates that Jake is accepting of same-sex relationships: when he thought Monique was Quinn's date, he was surprised but not bothered.
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," in Don Jake) and "resenting the hell out of" middle-age ("Quinn the Brain); 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.
|“||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 born on January 29, 1950, he was the son of an emotionally abusive father, nicknamed "Mad Dog" Morgendorffer, who (as Jake remembers it) tormented his son mercilessly, refused to let him show any 'weak' emotions (Monster), took him on camping trips where he'd get drunk and neglect him (The Teachings of Don Jake), 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"). Having "Mad Dog" as a father caused him to still wet the bed at age fifteen.
Little is known about Jake's siblings, though it is possible he had an older sister as Ruth Morgendorffer mentions "children" in one episode. Jake mentions having weirdo neighbors in The Daria Hunter.
At some point before Buxton Ridge, Jake was in the Boy Scouts with Paul Meyerson.
Jake's time at Buxton Ridge Military Academy 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)
In September 1968, 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).
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 June, 1972 ("The Daria Database") and moved into a commune together with their friends, where Jake tended to sit around while Helen did the work.
In 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.
Jake and Helen rejected the counter-culture by the end of the 1970s, and began working in the corporate world - though he'd already been thinking of money even while a happy, thinking of the resale value of a first-edition Das Kapital (Sappy Anniversary). 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 Morgendorffer, who was born on February 23, 1980, (whom he often refers to as "kiddo") and Quinn Morgendorffer who was born in September 21, 1981, by this point the family was living in Highland, Texas, (hometown 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 Morgendorffer Consulting. Jake could now enjoy the freedom of being his own boss, far from the stress-filled environment in which he used to work. In theory.
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.||”|
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 over various issues and it's made worse by the stress of their careers. "Fire!" showed them in a loving, calm relationship once they were in a relaxed environment, though this ended the instant stress re-entered the scene.
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.
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... appy. 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.
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 tim
e 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)
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 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 and 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" and that Helen won't admit it. In her teenage years, in "Psycho Therapy", he states to the Quiet Ivy staff that "there's nothing wrong with Daria"; and in "Aunt Nauseum" and other episodes, it's Daria he turns to out of the girls if he needs help.
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. Earlier, when he tried to seriously ask if he was a good father (in "Jake of Hearts") and hoped he wasn't making his children feel less than him, she also dodged the question rather than have an emotional conservation. 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.)
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.
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.
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".
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".
On the old MTV websites, Jake has a company 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 know how. 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)
As well as a website for his company, Jake has a personal homepage, Dad's Dynamic Domain.
Hello! 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!)
Did you attend Buxton Ridge Military Academy between 1950 and 1970? 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.
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 also has a page on Broodbeat.
- According to Glenn Eichler in an interview, Jake's sibling is 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, 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.